Furious Bruce hits out at Zaki
© AFP

Wigan manager Steve Bruce said he was at the "end of my tether" with Amr Zaki after the on-loan Egypt forward failed to return on time from international duty for the fourth time this season.

Zaki was due back in Wigan on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after Egypt's game against Zambia. His compatriot and fellow striker Mido made it back on time but repeated attempts by Wigan to contact Zaki came to nothing. Bruce, who said he intended to impose a heavy fine on Zaki, did not have his mood improved by the arrival of a fax from the Egypt team doctor saying the forward had a hamstring injury.

"I really am at the end of my tether with him," said Bruce, whose side are seventh in the English Premier League. "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," former Manchester United captain Bruce added. "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."

Zaki, 26, appears to have scuppered any hopes he may have had of turning his season-long loan from El Zamalek into a permanent move. Before Christmas, he was being talked about as a potential target for rival Premier League sides after scoring nine goals in his first 13 games for Wigan.

Off the boil
However, he has not found the target in 10 games since 28 December although injuries have disrupted his season. But it is Zaki's attitude, not his fitness, which has infuriated Bruce.

"I just feel it's time that we went public on just what a nightmare he has been to deal with," said the Wigan boss. "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," Bruce added. "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," the coach concluded. "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."