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Apr 2, 2009

Bruce ''at the end of tether'' with absent Zaki

Furious Wigan manager Steve Bruce will heavily fine on-loan striker Amr Zaki after the Egypt forward failed to return from international duty on time for the fourth occasion this season.

Zaki was due to be back in Wigan on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after his match against Zambia.

Compatriot Mido made it back in time but Zaki did not show and repeated efforts by club staff to contact the player have proved fruitless.

The Latics have received a faxed report from the Egypt team doctor claiming Zaki has a hamstring injury and needed rest but that has not been backed up by the required scan to highlight the problem.

''I really am at the end of my tether with him,'' said Bruce. ''Before this latest incident, Zaki had already been fined considerably more than the average person in Britain earns in a year and he will now face another heavy fine.

''This is the fourth time he has not reported back on time from international training. I have already fined him the maximum allowed but this just seems to have no effect.

''I am now fearful that if I don't take firm action, it will disrupt the rest of my squad, who - to a man - behave totally professionally.''

This latest incident means it is almost impossible to think Zaki, who celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, will secure a permanent deal when his season-long loan from El Zamalek expires in the summer.

Ironically, prior to Christmas he was being talked about as a major target for a number of Premier League clubs, after scoring nine goals in his first 13 matches for Wigan.

However, he has not found the net in 10 matches since December 28 and injuries have disrupted the middle of his season. Bruce feels he has protected the player for long enough and can no longer do so.

''I just feel it's time that we went public on just what a nightmare he has been to deal with,'' said the manager. ''I can honestly say that in all my time in football I have never worked with someone as unprofessional.

''I am right behind my players representing their countries, it is a tremendous honour for the club. This is not the issue here. But my South American players, for instance, have to go much longer distances but I have never had a problem with any of them.

''In Zaki's case it really defies belief from a player who is on loan and trying to earn himself a long-term contract.

''I'm sick of answering questions about Zaki's whereabouts and I don't want anything to distract the players from preparing for another massive game for us on Sunday against Everton.

''Zaki's behaviour has shown total disrespect to the club who pays him a very good wage and, equally as importantly, to the fans who sing his name from the stands. I think it's time for them to know the truth about the man.

''This situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible and I don't feel it's appropriate to say anything more at this stage, apart from how let down I feel, personally and professionally.''

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan described Zaki's behaviour as ''absolutely unforgivable'' but refused to confirm whether the striker's future could still lie at the JJB Stadium.

Whelan told Sky Sports News: ''That is for Steve Bruce to decide. I back him to the hilt. But if he (Zaki) behaves like this, he's going to find it very difficult to have a future with Wigan Athletic.''

Whelan believes rediscovering the form he showed at the start of his spell in England is the way for Zaki to get back in the good books.

''If he can get scoring goals again, the fans will love him again, but he has to win their respect,'' he added. ''If Steve decides he wants to be heavy-handed with him this time, I'm right behind him.''

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