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Fans say ditch Dani
The response from Saints fans has been clear – the club should cut their ties with Dani Osvaldo this month.
Nearly 80 per cent of supporters who voted in an online Daily Echo poll yesterday said the striker should either be sold or loaned out before the transfer window shuts.
Around 1,500 fans had voted by the time the Echo went to press last night.
The big question remains, though – how do Saints see Osvaldo’s future now, following his alleged headbutt on teammate José Fonte at the training ground?
As reported today, the Italian international has avoided police action, but he has not escaped sanction from his own club.
Saints have already suspended him for two weeks, and they will consider in that time whether they feel he can come back from this incident.
Much may depend on the views of his teammates, who made it clear in the immediate aftermath that they were deeply unhappy with the Italian international, while they supported Saints’ stance with him.
That mood might soften as time goes on, but the initial indication is that Osvaldo faces a difficult task if he wants to win back the faith of his colleagues.
Others before him have managed it, though.
John Hartson famously booted his West Ham teammate Eyal Berkovic in the face during a training session in 1998, with the incident being caught on camera.
Hartson continued to play for the club, while he and Berkovic at one stage even posed together for photographers, smiling and embracing each other at the training ground, after smoothing things over.
In 2010, Andy Carroll broke teammate Steven Taylor’s jaw in a training ground row said to be over an ex-girlfriend of Carroll. Both would play together again for Newcastle.
Clubs can sometimes take an extremely hard-line stance, however.
Although it wasn’t on the training ground, ex-Saint Dennis Wise was sacked by Leicester in 2002 after an alleged assault on teammate Callum Davidson.
The incident, which occurred in the team hotel on a pre-season tour, left Davidson with a fractured cheekbone.
It is certainly true that training ground disputes are not all that uncommon in football, which is perhaps no surprise given the competitiveness required of many players, as well as the contact nature of the sport.
And it is not just football where training ground headbutts and punches – which would be deemed assault cases if they had occurred in a pub or nightclub – result in no criminal charges. Josh Lewsey knocked out Wasps team-mate Danny Cipriani in a training ground bust-up back in 2008. Lewsey, though, was not subject to any disciplinary action from his club, let alone any police involvement and assault charges.
Maybe because of that competitiveness and contact nature, it is rare for police to ever become seriously involved in sporting bust-ups. However, there is some precedent.
Joey Barton was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after punching teammate Ousmane Dabo at Manchester City’s training ground in 2005.
Barton admitted the assault ahead of a trial and was given a four-month suspended sentence.
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