Gaetano Berardi forced the opening goal and Kemar Roofe scored Leeds United’s second as the pair made successful comebacks from injury in a development-squad clash with Burnley this afternoon.
Berardi’s 28th-minute header was turned into the net by Burnley’s Ollie Younger and Roofe struck shortly after half-time as Leeds United’s Under-23s fought out a 2-2 draw at Elland Road.
Berardi and Roofe were appearing for the first time since Leeds’ Championship stalemate with Middlesbrough on August 31 having been forced onto the sidelines by knee and calf problems respectively.
The pair are being lined up to make their first-team comebacks at Blackburn Rovers next weekend, ending six-match absences, and they were watched by head coach Marcelo Bielsa today.
Both players came through safely but there was frustration for United’s Under-23s as two concessions in six second-half minutes allowed Burnley to overturn a 2-0 deficit and deny the league leaders victory.
Leeds chose to hold back Pablo Hernandez, who has missed the last seven first-team fixtures with a hamstring strain, but the Spaniard is back in training and also targeting the trip to Ewood Park.
Bielsa spoke after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Brentford about the need to work on the fitness of his fringe or recovering players during the international break and Adam Forshaw, Lewis Baker and Jamal Blackman were all included against a young Burnley side.
Forshaw had already gone close with a shot from long range when Berardi met Baker’s corner with a glancing header which Younger bundled past goalkeeper Adam Bruce.
Baker could have scored himself when Bruce blocked his shot with his legs while Burnley posed only a brief threat before half-time. Dan Agyei wasted their best chance by slashing a shot wide.
Berardi, who was booked before half-time for a foul on Agyei, featured at left-back in a possible hint at Bielsa’s plans for Blackburn.
The United boss will be without suspended right-back Luke Ayling in Lancashire while left-back Barry Douglas is a doubt with a hamstring problem. Jamie Shackleton was used as a right wing-back against Burnley and laid on Roofe’s goal on 56 mins.
A low pass from Shackleton found Roofe inside the box and the forward dispatched a sharp finish into the bottom corner, his last opportunity before being replaced on 70 minutes.
Burnley had pulled a goal back three minutes prior to his substitution though a fine effort from winger Dwight McNeil and Leeds allowed a victory to slip away in the 72nd minute when Younger rose at a corner to nod a powerful header past Blackman.
Leeds later allayed fears that young defender Conor Shaughnessy had suffered a fresh injury set-back.
Shaughnessy was due to make his comeback from an ankle knock this afternoon but with withdrawn during the warm-up after being taken ill. Leif Davis replaced him in the starting line-up.
Leeds United: Blackman, Davis (Nicell 60), Struijk, Diaz, Shackleton, Forshaw, Baker, Berardi, Roofe (Stevens 70), Dalby (Gotts 86), Clarke. Subs (not used): Miazek, Gott.
Burnley: Bruce, Cropper, Koiki, Howarth, Glennon, Younger, Bayode, Goodridge, Agyei Benson 59), Chakwana (Harker 78), McNeil. Subs (not used): McMahon, Cooke, Blair.
Referee: Mike Barlow