Leeds United are facing a severe shortage of players at Charlton Athletic today after six of the club’s foreign signings unexpectedly declared themselves injured.
Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, centre-backs Giuseppe Bellusci and Dario Del Fabro and strikers Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara and Edgar Cani are understood to have told head coach Neil Redfearn that they would not be fit for the Charlton trip at Thorp Arch yesterday morning.
The group are believed to have trained without problem on Thursday but none of them travelled with United’s squad to London and they will be missing from Redfearn’s 18-man group at The Valley.
Gaetano Berardi is also a doubt, though sources at the club say the Swiss left-back has been carrying a problem since last weekend’s loss to Cardiff City. He journeyed south and could yet feature this afternoon.
The bizarre development comes with Leeds bidding to end a poor run of four straight defeats and Redfearn waiting to see if the club will extend his contract as head coach.
The 49-year-old’s deal is up in the summer and the club are yet to indicate if they will exercise an option to extend the agreement by another 12 months.
Redfearn has endured a turbulent month following the unexplained suspension of his assistant, Steve Thompson, earlier this month. He also came under pressure from United’s board not to use Antenucci due to a goal-related clause in the striker’s contract which will extend Antenucci’s deal by an extra year if he scores two more goals.
Leeds moved to clarify the situation this morning, with a spokesman describing the past few days as a “disastrous week for injuries.”
The club say Silvestri has a back problem, Cani and Del Fabro have knee injuries, Doukara is struggling with a groin strain, Antenucci is nursing a hip problem and Bellusci has sustained damage to hamstring and thigh muscles.
The absence of Silvestri - ever-present in Championship games this season - will see Stuart Taylor make his league debut for Leeds at The Valley.
Silvestri was involved in a heavy collision with Cameron Jerome during Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Norwich City but Redfearn expected him to be available tomorrow.
The Italian keeper was one of 15 players brought in last summer after the takeover of United by banned owner Massimo Cellino.
Bellusci, Del Fabro, Antenucci and Doukara also arrived during that influx while Cani joined United on a half-season loan from Catania in January.