Whenever a player drops out of a side injured, there always tends to be a more positive outlook in that it gifts a player a chance to impress. That’s not the case with Gaetano Berardi’s enforced absence due to injury.
🗣 Berardi out for 4 months
Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi suffers hamstring tendon rupture
He has spent the week seeing consultants in the UK and Italy
— Adam Pope (@apopey) November 3, 2018
As BBC Radio Leeds broadcast journalist Adam Pope has stated, popular defender Gaetano Berardi is out for the next four months. His hamstring tendon rupture is going to sideline the popular Swiss full-back until around February time.
His loss will be profoundly felt, Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa having brought him in from the edges of defence and started to shape him into some form of ball-playing central defender.
He’s already been out injured once this season with a slight injury, but this raises his injury status to an altogether different level. Bielsa tried to describe the injury, his words being carried by the Leeds Live website.
What the Leeds United supremo said in his pre-Wigan presser was: “[It will be] a lot of time. It’s not a simple injury.
I don’t know how to explain it; the level of the tendon, the muscle, went to the other way, as if the muscle had turned around the tendon. But I will ask the head of the medicine department to give you the information because I know I made a mistake explaining it. I’m just repeating what I’ve been told and maybe I’m not precise enough in my explanation.”
This injury leaves the Whites in quite the predicament. Not only is Berardi out for a stretch, so is regular right-back Luke Ayling. The former Bristol City star, injured against Nottingham Forest, is suffering from medial ligament damage to his knee. This twin injury situation leaves the Whites with no recognised, experienced full-backs other than Barry Douglas.
Douglas has himself just returned from an injury layoff, so at least the left side of defence is anchored down firmly. However, the right-hand side of the back four is going to have to rely on Stuart Dallas being pressed back into an extended period of ‘out-of-position’ action.
It isn’t a situation that is ideal, not by any stretch of the imagination. Dallas is a winger, being forced to play as a defender on a regular basis is like trying to get a #11 batsman, whose had the odd dalliance as a nightwatchman, to open the batting for a test series.
Another issue is that Bielsa has insisted on a stripped back, pared down set-up for the first team squad. That’s what he’s got; these injuries are stripping United even further back to the bone. Luckily, the Bielsa effect, the way that Leeds play, is holding…for the moment.
Ahead of the Wigan game, on Sunday, Leeds sit in 4th place in the Sky Bet Championship table. A win against the Latics will be enough to lift them to the top of the pile once again. It will also highlight the resilience and versatility of the Whites squad.
Yet with the January window still 59 days away, I just can’t help but worry that Gaetano Berardi’s unfortunate injury has closed more doors than it has opened.