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Redknapp sticks up for Di Canio

Harry Redknapp has backed Paolo Di Canio to succeed at Sunderland, and criticised the furore over his political beliefs.

• Blog: Can PDC make his point?

The QPR boss managed the Italian as player at West Ham United for two years between 1999 and 2001, and had only praise for him when asked about the new Black Cats boss on Friday.

"I'd love to see him do well," he said. "I really would. He was a great player for me. He's a good lad, a great trainer, the fittest guy you'd ever wish to see. He'll want his players to be the same: live right, eat right. He'll demand that of them.

Redknapp went on to hit back at the media for only making an issue of statements Di Canio had made in the past now that he is managing in the Premier League and not League One, where he got Swindon promoted to last season.

Di Canio released a statement on Wednesday clarifying that he is not a fascist in response to the continuous questions and discussions about him.

"He's a fascist now because he's at Sunderland," Redknapp said. "No one ever mentioned it at Swindon. Suddenly he goes to Sunderland and all the dirt in the world gets dug up on him.

"No one started on him at Swindon but he goes to Sunderland and people dig up stuff on his past. He was loved at West Ham, idolised there.

"He's got a tough job on his hands, but he'll give it his best shot."