Garry Monk said Gaetano Berardi’s “fantastic” form had kept him in Leeds United’s side ahead of Charlie Taylor on Saturday as the club’s head coach prepared to make another change to his back four.
Monk admitted that he was still wary of over-stretching Taylor after the full-back’s recent return from a Achilles injury but said Berardi’s displays on the left side of defence had earned him another start in United’s goalless draw with Queens Park Rangers.
Taylor endured a two-month lay-off with a problem sustained before Christmas but made his first league start since December 17 last week after Luke Ayling missed a 1-1 draw at Fulham to be present at the birth of his first child.
Berardi switched to right-back to accommodate Taylor on the left at Craven Cottage but Monk recalled Ayling against QPR and opted to field Berardi over Taylor who dropped to the bench.
“Berra’s been fantastic,” Monk said. “Luke’s been doing exceptionally well too and Charlie did well when he came on (at Fulham).
“A little bit of it is about looking after Charlie but I was making decisions. That’s what you have to do and there’s no problem with that whatsoever.”
Ayling incurred a two-match ban on Saturday after receiving his 10th yellow card of the season, meaning Taylor is likely to start against Brighton at Elland Road this weekend.
Midfielder Kalvin Phillips has also out of the Brighton clash as he serves the second match of a two-game suspension.
United’s development squad extended a poor run of results with a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Thorp Arch yesterday.
The club’s Under-23s, who are bottom of their professional development league, lost to a second-half goal from Palace forward Andre Coker.
Coker volleyed in off the crossbar 15 minutes from time to settle a game of few chances and leave United without a league win since last November.
Jason Blunt’s squad have been badly affected by injuries and the loss of players to Garry Monk’s first-team squad this season.
Forward Eoghan Stokes and centre-back Paul McKay both limped out of yesterday’s match.