Gaetano Berardi is back snapping into tackles for Leeds United but no minutes for Ian Poveda at Crystal Palace

Leeds United stalwart Gaetano Berardi took another step forward in his rehabilitation from knee surgery with a comeback for the Under 23s today.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 3:51 pm
BERARDI'S BACK - Gaetano Berardi played 45 minutes of Premier League 2 action for Leeds United Under 23s on Monday. Pic: Getty

The centre-half partnered Oliver Casey in Mark Jackon's defence at Crystal Palace in his first match action since last July.

An ACL injury sustained in the penultimate game of the 2019/20 Championship season at Derby County necessitated a summer operation and has kept Berardi sidelined until the 45-minute display against the Eagles' second string on Monday.

He looked sharp on the ball, playing some nice passes, and showed every bit of his trademark appetite for a tackle, going to ground a couple of times to try and halt Palace attackers.

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With the game goalless Jackson withdrew the Swiss defender at the interval in a planned swap, sending on prospect Charlie Cresswell who himself put in a fine display in the centre of defence.

The 23s lost 2-0 however, having lost Crysencio Summerville to an early red card for two bookable offences. The sending off gave the Leeds outfit an uphill struggle, although they still made a real game of it and penned Palace into their own half for large parts of the latter stages.

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa will be pleased with the latest step in Berardi's progression, having expected to be able to count upon the 32-year-old for the final months of the Premier League season.

He recently declared Berardi's return a morale boost for everyone at Thorp Arch.

"Berardi is a player who is respected by all his teammates and ourselves," he said.

"He made a big effort throughout the last six months to recover. For all of us it is a very happy moment to see him working with the team. From now onwards he will take the necessary steps so he can start to play again."

Another first team squad player on the comeback trail is Ian Poveda. The nippy winger was included in Jackson's squad for the Palace trip but remained on the bench. He injured his ankle playing for the 23s at the start of February. This season the former Manchester City youngster has made 10 substitute appearances in the top flight, the best of which was a cameo against his old side.