Leeds United midfielder Tommaso Bianchi will have surgery on Monday and miss the first month of the season after failing to recover from a knee injury sustained during the club’s tour of Austria.
Bianchi is facing an absence of up to six weeks and looks unlikely to be available until the middle of September due to a cartilage problem suffered 10 days ago.
The Italian was hurt during United’s pre-season friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt near Salzburg and missed their 2-1 defeat to Hoffenheim in Norway last weekend.
Head coach Uwe Rosler hoped Bianchi would resume training this week but fresh analysis of the 26-year-old’s condition forced Leeds to send him for an operation.
The injury is unrelated to the cruciate ligament damage which saw him undergo surgery towards the end of last season but Rosler was disappointed to lose a player who featured regularly in the early stages of the summer.
Fellow midfielder Luke Murphy is already recovering from a similar operation and is due to return towards the end of next month.
Rosler said: “It’s a pity because I felt Tommaso was one of the players who really came on.
“He did every training session but then against Frankfurt he got an impact injury. He damaged cartilage, a similar injury to Luke Murphy. We think he’ll be out for four to six weeks.”
Bianchi’s set-back has been tempered by Lewis Cook’s return to training.
The 18-year-old injured a toe in Leeds’ defeat to Hoffenheim but Rosler confirmed that he would start against Everton at Elland Road tomorrow, United’s final friendly before of the start of the new Championship term.
Rosler set up a challenging finish to the club’s pre-season schedule by arranging back-to-back meetings with Bundesliga opposition and securing a clash with a strong Premier League side this weekend.
Everton are staging a testimonial for Duncan Ferguson against Villarreal on Sunday but Rosler said the club’s manager, Roberto Martinez, had promised to name a strong side at Elland Road.
United’s boss spoke of his satisfaction with seven days to go before his squad’s first league match, saying: “Week to week we’ve seen improvement. Fitness got better, sharpness got better. We got more and more competitive.
“We haven’t got it right so far over 90 minutes but that’s understandable because of the volume of training and travelling. In the last week we’ve refreshed the players and hopefully now we can get a show against Everton where we perform over 90 minutes.
“I think we’ve had a good pre-season considering where we started from. The players are familiar with the way we play and we’ve had periods of good play and pressing. What has to come now is the final third play.
“In possession we have to be a little bit calmer and we have to make better decisions but that will come. We’ve come a long way.”
But Rosler, who is close to signing winger Stuart Dallas from Brentford, insisted his line-up tomorrow would not be identical to his line-up against Burnley next weekend.
“When you have a squad you believe in, you choose the players who are best suited to win the next game,” he said. “That’s my philosophy.
“That means the guys who start against Everton are probably not the guys who’ll start against Burnley and definitely not against Doncaster (in the League Cup). The style of play we have needs sensible rotation.”