Sunderland are considering legal action against former manager Paolo Di Canio following comments made about the club's players.
Di Canio, who left Sunderland after just 13 games in charge back in September with the club bottom of the Premier League, launched a scathing attack on a group of his former players over the weekend, labelling Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole as "rotten" and captain John O'Shea as "two-faced."
Sunderland have since reached the League Cup final under the guidance of Di Canio's successor Gus Poyet, although the Stadium of Light outfit remain in the relegation zone with just 18 points from 22 games.
The Wearside club has been quick to express disappointment at the remarks and hinted that legal action could follow.
A statement on Sunderland's official website read: "Sunderland AFC would like to express its disappointment in relation to the disparaging comments made recently by Paolo Di Canio, regarding the club and its players.
"The club is immensely proud of its players for the dignified and restrained manner in which they have conducted themselves publicly since Mr Di Canio’s departure and it is particularly disappointing to read such comments when there are legal obligations in place to ensure such behaviour does not occur.
"The club is now considering its position with its legal representatives.
"Having reached a cup final for the first time in 22 years, whilst also enjoying a run of only one loss in 12 games, we want to focus on what is a positive time for the football club and we would hope it is possible to draw a line under this matter quickly and that there will be no repetition.
"Neither the club, head coach Gus Poyet nor the players will be making any further comment on the situation. We are looking forward, not back and are focusing on the vital games we have ahead of us."