Charlton Athletic v Leeds United: Bamba remains major doubt while Berardi not guaranteed to start

Sol Bamba.
Sol Bamba.
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CAPTAIN SOL Bamba remains a major doubt for Leeds United’s Championship trip to Charlton Athletic on Saturday while full back Gaetano Berardi is not guaranteed to start on his return from suspension.

Bamba has been nursing a fractured toe since the international break but was expected to return for this weekend’s visit to The Valley.

However, Evans has been advised by the club’s medical staff that Saturday will likely be “two days too soon” for the centre-back meaning Liam Cooper will again likely partner Giuseppe Bellusci at the heart of United’s defence.

Full back Berardi is also back available after serving a reduced two match ban but Evans says the Swiss ace is not guaranteed to replace Scott Wootton.

Evans said: “Sol is back in training but I think the medical staff are almost intimating to me that Saturday might be, believe it or not, two days too early, that it would be different if the game was Monday.

“But it’s not Monday of course.

“We’ll give him every opportunity but if the big man doesn’t make Saturday then he’s fully and wholly available for Wolves for selection.

“I’m always guided by the medical staff, I am never one to overrule them but I want Sol Bamba out there as quickly as I can so I’ll certainly give him every opportunity but that’s the way the medical team were hinting this morning.”

Praising the recent efforts of Cooper and Bellusci, Evans added: “I think both those lads have been outstanding in spells - probably a little bit shy of where they should be in certain points of the matches - but I think both would be really pleased with how they have performed.

“They’ll know that Sol Bamba is a big player for this football club and they’ll know that he is the type of character that I want to get on the pitch.

“They know when they see Sol out, when he appears out of the building and back on the training ground, they know the competition for their shirt is under threat. I think it’s a good thing.”

Evans is also delighted to have Berardi back available - hailing the 27-year-old’s return as “like having a new signing” - but the head coach says it’s not a case of the defender merely walking straight back into the team.

“The respect he has in the dressing room is huge and that’s because he is a real competitor,” said Evans

“Very often in training we do two v twos, three v threes, one v ones and no one wants to go against Berardi.

“He’s got that real pride about his performances and he’s very much like a new signing to the group.

“I know that sounds silly after a couple of games but it’s like a new signing when you come off the back of a win against Hull.

“But there’s no definites that anyone will start.

“There’s no guarantees in the dressing room, there’s probably three or four that you think did that well against Hull that they have the right to start because we do say if you do play the way you can play and you play at the top of your game you will start the next one but there’s certainly no guarantees.”