Wigan Athletic v Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa backs Stuart Dallas with Gaetano Berardi facing 'a lot of time' out

A 'LOT OF TIME' OUT: For Leeds United's Gaetano Berardi, above.
A 'LOT OF TIME' OUT: For Leeds United's Gaetano Berardi, above.
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HEAD COACH Marcelo Bielsa praised the importance of Stuart Dallas to Leeds United’s cause after revealing that right-back Gaetano Berardi is facing a “long time” out with a hamstring injury.

Berardi injured his hamstring in the recent 2-0 win at home to Ipswich Town with the full-back facing a prolonged spell on the sidelines at a time when right back Luke Ayling is also out for two months with a knee injury.

Ayling damaged his MCL in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at home to Nottingham Forest and Bielsa has revealed he will again play winger Stuart Dallas at full back in Sunday’s Championship clash at Wigan Athletic.

Leeds also have right back Lewie Coyle on loan at League One side Fleetwood Town until January 6 but Bielsa has highlighted the full-back qualities of Dallas and also 19-year-old Jamie Shackleton in the absence of Ayling and Berardi with the latter’s injury a serious one.

Asked how long Berardi would be missing for, Bielsa revealed: “A lot of time. It’s not a simple injury.

“I don’t know how to explain it, the level of the tendon, the muscle, went to the other body. The muscle had turned around the tendon.

“But I will ask the head of medicine to give you the information because I know I made a mistake explaining it. I’m just repeating what I’ve been told and maybe I’m not precise enough.”

With Berardi already injured, United lost another right back last weekend when Ayling had to be taken off after 25 minutes.

The defender is facing two months out with scans confirming an injury to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee

Winger Dallas - who has been used in a variety of positions by Bielsa - shifted across from left back to take the role and the versatile Shackleton is another option for United’s head coach on the right hand side of defence.

Asked where Dallas would play at Wigan, Bielsa revealed: “He will play as a full-back.

“He has a very important contribution to the offensive play.

“He has a very good first pass. He is a dynamic player and adapts very well to the style of play.”

Pressed on where the injuries to Ayling and Berardi left him in terms of options at right back and if Coyle could be recalled from Fleetwood, Bielsa said: “I can’t give you a positive answer, nor a negative one.

“What I can tell you is Dallas played well as a left full-back, as did Shackleton.

“From January we will have the possibility to get back our four injured players. Berardi, (Patrick) Bamford, Ayling, (Izzy) Brown.”