Steve Evans leapt to the defence of Giuseppe Bellusci after another error from the centre-back denied Leeds United a deserved win over Queens Park Rangers.
Evans fought Bellusci’s corner and said he would pick the defender with complete confidence at Championship leaders Burnley this weekend, despite Bellusci’s mistakes costing the club three points in the space of four days.
The Italian’s misjudgement against Rotherham United on Saturday led to a late penalty which condemned Leeds to a 2-1 defeat and his foul on QPR striker Sebastian Polter last night allowed a poor Rangers side to snatch a 1-1 draw from the spot two minutes from time.
Evans said he had retained Bellusci in his starting line-up and dropped club captain Sol Bamba to the bench after Bamba complained of illness while United’s head coach was deciding his team yesterday afternoon.
Evans refused to argue with the penalty decision but said: “You wouldn’t expect me as head coach to be anything other than supportive of everyone in the dressing room.
“Peppe knows it’s a bit of a rash challenge. Just before that there’s a foul on Lewie Coyle but we’re not going to blame that. It’s a penalty.
“When we were in the process of finalising the team, big Sol arrived and said ‘gaffer, I’m not quite right.’ That’s not a cop-out. If people remember, when Scott Wootton made a mistake at Watford he played the next game and did well.
“Giuseppe’s a very good player. He’s had a couple of games where he’s done a couple of things were you’d expect him to do better. But he’s an honest man and he doesn’t take things lightly. We support all our players and we’ve got a tight-knit dressing room.”
Asked if he would be happy to start Bellusci at Burnley, Evans said: “There are other good centre-halves who’ve cost me more. If it’s right and we think he should play, he’ll play.”
Leeds appeared to be on course for a 1-0 win last night – a result which would have all but secured their Championship status – after a classy finish from Chris Wood broke the deadlock on 70 minutes.
Evans played debutant 19-year-old Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal and the young keeper was untroubled until Bellusci’s foul gave substitute Tjaronn Chery the chance to score from the spot.
Evans was further frustrated by a decision to rule Wood offside at the death as he tried to stab home the rebound from a Lewis Coyle shot.
“We played the better football, we created the chances, we scored a great goal but we gave the penalty away,” Evans said.
“It’s a clear penalty but why is Chris Wood not allowed to put the ball into the net in the last five seconds? He’s two yards onside. I go away thinking that Leeds United should win the game.”