Gaetano Berardi could make another appearance for Leeds United’s Under-23s tonight with the right-back bidding to be in first-team contention when the Championship season resumes next week.
Berardi completed a 45-minute comeback from injury in a development-squad clash with Bristol City nine days ago and the right-back is in line to feature again away at Bolton Wanderers this evening.
Head coach Garry Monk welcomed Berardi back to training ahead of the international break but delayed his senior return having lost him for almost two months to a hamstring strain sustained on the first weekend of the season.
Berardi started the current campaign as first-choice right-back but his injury extended a run of fitness concerns and the subsequent signing of Luke Ayling from Bristol City has threatened his place under Monk.
The former Sampdoria player was sidelined by ankle ligament damage twice last season and was forced to miss parts of pre-season with a thigh strain.
Berardi, however, insisted last week that he was back to full fitness and Monk, whose senior players are due to train this morning, anticipated that the defender would be close to full fitness when Leeds travelled to Derby County for their next Championship match on October 15.
“He has to get through a period of training again and we have a plan for him, to make sure it’s sustainable,” Monk said last month. “You can deal with all the rehab in the world but the real test comes in the training situations.
“Then he’ll probably have to play a few minutes with the Under-23s to make sure he ticks all the right boxes – and then be available for selection.”
United’s Under-23s are looking for their second win of the season against Bolton at the County Ground in Leyland tonight (kick-off 7pm).