Gaetano Berardi will be fit for the start of Leeds United’s pre-season schedule after scans on his injured ankle allayed fears of another serious setback.
Minor ligament damage has ruled Berardi out of United’s last two Championship games but the right-back is facing a recovery period of up to four weeks and will be ready to begin training at the start of July. Leeds were concerned that Berardi was heading for a longer lay-off after a foul by Jake Livermore in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Hull City injured the same ankle hurt by the defender before Christmas.
Berardi was sidelined for two months by a torn ligament sustained in a goalless draw at Charlton Athletic in mid-December.
He returned to contention in February but has now seen his campaign ended early after he was stretchered off during the second half at the KC Stadium.
Leeds sent Berardi for X-rays over the weekend and he underwent a separate scan on Monday to assess the extent of his ligament damage.
His absence is likely to open the door for young right-back Lewie Coyle to add to his four league starts before the Championship term ends away at Preston North End next Saturday.
Coyle, 20, came off the bench to replace Berardi at Hull and United’s Under-21s captain is in contention to play against Charlton Athletic this weekend.
Having lost Berardi to injury, head coach Steve Evans will see his midfield options strengthened for the visit of Charlton by Alex Mowatt’s return from a three-match ban.
Leeds, meanwhile, say they have had an “incredibly strong” response to the innovative season ticket plan they unveiled last week.
United revealed yesterday that sales for the 2016-17 term are more than twice as high as they were for this season at the same stage last year.
The club announced their latest prices last Tuesday, promising fans who buy tickets before May 31 a refund of at least 25 per cent if Leeds fail to reach the Championship play-offs next season.