JOHN Hughes hopes former room-mate Paolo Di Canio has not quit Swindon Town by the time he takes Hartlepool United to the County Ground this weekend.
The pair roomed together during their playing days at Celtic in the mid-1990s and Hughes has not seen the fiery Italian since leaving Parkhead.
Di Canio, though, has threatened to walk away from The Robins, claiming his position has become “untenable” after the club sold winger Matt Ritchie “behind his back”.
Managerless Huddersfield Town are said to be considering an approach for the 44-year-old, who has guided Swindon to fourth in League One following last season’s promotion campaign.
Hughes, though, admits he will be disappointed if he is not lining up opposite Di Canio on Saturday.
“I want to go and lock horns with Paulo this weekend, I really hope he’s still there,” the Pools chief told SportMail.
“He’s had one or two things to say this week and we’ll have to see how it plays out.
“But Paolo is a gentleman and I hope he’s still there because I’ve not seen him since 1997.”
He went on: “He is a great character in the game.
“I had to room with him at Celtic so he knows he’ll have to behave himself – he will know I’m the top man, no messing about.
“But what a great guy he was to have around in football terms, he was so talented.
“I never got tired of kicking him in training though!”
Meanwhile, Ritchie joined Bournemouth last week in a £500,000 deal in a bid to raise funds for the Wiltshire club, who are set to be taken over amid the threat of administration.
Hughes, though, is not concerning himself with Swindon’s off-the-field woes.
“They’re obviously a very good side but we’ve shown in the past few matches that, if we get our side of things right, we can match anyone,” said Hughes, Pools having moved to within eight points of safety thanks to three wins from six.
“We always said that back-to-back wins would change the picture and give us that belief.
“We’ve got that now, we need to make sure we don’t lose it and keep that going for the rest of the season – we’ll need to if we’re going to get out of this.”