Sheffield Wednesday have issued Gary Madine a final warning, as the striker returns to first-team training at Middlewood today.
The 23-year-old was released from prison last week after serving just over four months of his 18-month sentence, for two separate attacks on nights out in Sheffield city centre.
The striker has issued a full apology for his actions, and the Sheffield Telegraph understands he is still in reasonable condition having undertaken a fitness programme whilst in Armley prison, which included working with Leeds Rhinos’ Under-19 squad.
In a statement issued by Wednesday, the club insist they will offer “their full and ongoing support” to Madine, “as he seeks to take positive moves forward on both a personal and professional basis”.
Owls chairman Milan Mandaric, who held talks with Madine and head-coach Stuart Gray, said: “First and foremost, Gary is remorseful and has apologised to all those affected.
“He has made some serious errors of judgement and is the first to take ownership of that situation and the consequences that followed.
“We can only condemn his actions as a community-focused football club and make it abundantly clear that no further breach of club rules will be tolerated.
“However, we are of the belief that Gary will try his utmost to put this episode behind him, whilst never forgetting the impact of his actions.
“In addition, we firmly believe the club can play a key, hands-on role in facilitating Gary’s rehabilitation back into the professional working environment.”
Madine added: “I would like to apologise unreservedly to everyone who has suffered through my actions. I realise I let myself, my family and friends, and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club down.
“I now wish to look forward with all the focus on my football, and I am grateful to Sheffield Wednesday for giving me this continued opportunity.
“I can only promise never to let the club or anyone else down in this manner again.”
Owls chief Gray, meanwhile, believes Wednesday owe their supporters a performance after their FA Cup exit earlier this week.
The Owls missed the opportunity to set up a mouthwatering quarter-final tie against Steel City rivals United at Bramall Lane, as they lost 2-1 to Chris Powell’s Charlton Athletic in a rearranged fifth round tie at Hillsborough on Monday evening.
Simon Church’s second-half winner saw the Addicks progress to face United in the quarter-finals, after Wednesday’s loan striker Leon Best had cancelled out Callum Harriott’s first-half opening strike.
“We have let the fans down, big time,” Gray admitted.
“There was a lot of excitement because of who we would have faced in the next round, and it is disappointing because I wanted to go as far as I could in this competition.
“Whether it was nerves, or the occasion that got to them, I don’t know. You’d have to ask the players, but good FA Cup runs can keep your season alive.
“I don’t mind getting beaten if it’s in the right manner, or if the opposition has really had to work hard for it.
“But the manner we lost that game was not acceptable, and I will be looking for a response.”
Wednesday - who are nine points of Charlton, who occupy the final relegation place in the Championship table - can now concentrate solely on their league form, and can claw themselves to within a point of 13th-placed Middlesbrough if they beat them at home this weekend.
“Our objective for the season now remains as it was before... to win as many games as we can,” Gray continued.“But we won’t do that if we play in the manner we did against Charlton. We need to get back to basics - to running hard, working hard, closing down the opposition and forcing them to make mistakes.
“Charlton did that to us and we couldn’t cope with it, which was disappointing.”
Gray admitted Wednesday’s “pride” had been hurt by the Charlton loss, which was their third in the last four games after an 11-match unbeaten run.
n Right-back Lewis Buxton played 90 minutes for Wednesday’s Under-21 side on Tuesday, in a 2-2 draw with Coventry City.
Jermaine Johnson also played 70 minutes, with Wednesday’s goals coming from youngsters Khalil Lambin and Mani Dieseruvwe.