Frustration at Leeds United over the loss of Gaetano Berardi to an ankle injury was tempered by the initial fear that the damage could have been worse.
The Swiss right-back is facing eight weeks on the sidelines after tearing an ankle ligament in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Charlton Athletic and a disappointed Steve Evans said the only consolation was that Berardi “hasn’t broken a bone”.
United feared that scans on the injury would reveal a bad break, potentially ruling Berardi out for several months and forcing him to undergo surgery, but Leeds expect him to avoid an operation and will send him for further scans next week.
Berardi’s absence – coming on the back of a recent two-match suspension – is a setback for Evans, depriving the head coach of one of United’s most consistent performers this season.
The 26-year-old has played on the right and left side of Leeds’ defence and earned an extension to his contract in September.
He was hurt in the closing stages of Saturday’s clash with Charlton and stretchered from the pitch having appeared as a second-half substitute.
Evans said: “The respect for him here speaks volumes about how good a player he is for us.
“It’s disappointing to have lost him and the only slight relief for us was that is wasn’t worse. At first we feared he’d broken a bone and that would have been more serious than the damage he’s actually suffered. But there’s no doubt he’ll be missed.”
Berardi’s injury came as captain Sol Bamba returned to training after a lengthy lay-off with a broken toe.
Bamba has not played since appearing as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town last month and last started a game at home to Blackburn Rovers on October 29.
Leeds are still without goalkeeper Ross Turnbull, who broke an ankle in a training ground match two months ago, but the rest of Evans’ squad are expected to be fit for tomorrow night’s visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers.