Leeds United: Berardi plays in friendly as he steps up return

Gaetano Berardi
Gaetano Berardi
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Gaetano Berardi stepped up his injury comeback by featuring in a behind-closed-doors game at Thorp Arch yesterday.

The Leeds United right-back joined other first-team players in a training-ground friendly, following up his 45-minute outing for the Under-23s last week.

Head coach Garry Monk opted to use Berardi in the match at Thorp Arch rather than send him to last night’s development-squad game against Bolton Wanderers.

Berardi is returning from a hamstring injury suffered in United’s first league game of the season and the defender appears to be closing in on a Championship return ahead of the club’s next fixture away at Derby County a week on Saturday.

Last night’s Under-23 line-up included two other experienced faces with out-of-favour midfielders Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga both involved.

The pair are peripheral to Monk’s plans and presently training with United’s Under-23s.

They were missing from the squad lists printed in United’s last two matchday programmes, along with goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.

Development squad coach Jason Blunt praised their attitude, however, saying: “They’ve played hundreds of league games between them. What will impress the young boys about them is, yes, they’re not breaking into the first team but the attitude’s been good.

“If these young boys are going to make a career, it’s not always a smooth ride.”

Diagouraga was on the scoresheet as the Whites’ Under-23s came from two goals down to defeat Bolton 4-3 last night.

George Newell gave the Trotters the lead after four minutes and the hosts doubled their advantage through talented midfielder Alex Samizadeh on 35 minutes.

Midfielder Murphy went close for Leeds before Diagouraga pulled one back four minutes later and United drew level a minute after the restart through Eoghan Stokes.

Bolton went back in front through Alex Honeyball (76), but Leeds substitute Sammi Amissah levelled things up again on 83 minutes, with striker Stokes netting a dramatic 87th-minute winner for Blunt’s team.