The futures of Birmingham City duo Olivier Kapo and Franck Queudrue were clouded in mystery after the duo failed to turn up for the first day of pre-season training.
While the rest of the squad, including new signing Lee Carsley, were put through their paces at Wast Hills, Queudrue and Kapo had not given the Blues management team any notice they would be absent.
Queudrue has said he believed the first day of training was actually next Monday, while Kapo said he was having an operation on a hand injury but manager Alex McLeish said he was still expecting both to be present at Wast Hills yesterday.
“It has been reported Franck said he didn’t know the date to return to training but all the players were told the date and they turned up,” McLeish said. “He’ll have to explain that one.
“Olivier Kapo has indicated he was staying over in France to have an operation on his hand but we don’t know much more than that.
“We pay handsome wages to the players and they should be reporting to our medical team first and foremost if there’s a problem of any kind. The bottom line is both should have been back here on the day that training was organised and I now have to deal with the situation.”
Queudrue’s days at St Andrew’s have been numbered ever since co-owner David Sullivan branded him a waste of money after his arrival from Fulham last summer. The French full back failed to shine last season and made just 16 appearances.
Kapo’s no-show is even more significant. Despite being quoted as saying he was happy with life at Birmingham City at the end of last season, sources close to the French international have stated he is reluctant to drop into the Championship and chairman David Gold revealed to The Post in May that the club had received an offer for Kapo.
Former Blues manager Steve Bruce, who signed the 27-year-old for £3?million from Juventus last summer, is said to be keen on adding him to his Wigan Athletic squad, which already features former Blues stars Emile Heskey, Mario Melchiot, Wilson Palacios and Daniel de Ridder, who joined the Latics yesterday less than 24 hours after having his contract at Blues cancelled ‘by mutual consent’.
However, Birmingham are likely to try and recoup most, if not all, of their initial outlay for the midfielder and his failure to show up for training will not help his cause.
Kapo may have decided not to report with the rest of the squad in an attempt to force McLeish to release him. But while the former Scotland and Rangers manager may have shown his softer side in the past by giving the players Christmas Day off and allowing striker James McFadden to attend the birth of his child on the morning of the trip to Portsmouth last season, he will show his steely side in dealing with both of his awol stars.
Meanwhile, Bruce said he was delighted to sign de Ridder for the second time.
“Daniel is an exciting player and I’m convinced he can make an impact at Wigan,” he said. “He has very quick feet and can pull off the unexpected, he’s a player with a trick who can go past defenders and has an eye for a pass.
“He’s also versatile enough to play in a number of positions.”
Dutch midfielder De Ridder added: “When a manager says he wants you for his team it is very flattering, especially when it is a big team like Wigan who are now well established in the Premier League.”