Giuseppe Bellusci should return to Leeds United’s starting line-up this afternoon with the club standing by him in the wake of his racism charge.
Bellusci resumed full training on Monday after recovering from a hamstring strain, putting himself in contention for today’s game against Wigan Athletic.
The Italian has missed the United’s last three matches but head coach Neil Redfearn said: “I’d expect him to be available. He’s trained and he’s trained well. We chose not to risk him and we’ve done the right thing. He’s a big player but at the same time, losing him for a few games is better than taking the chance that he does his hamstring badly.”
Bellusci is returning from injury with a serious accusation hanging over him following the Football Association’s decision to charge him with racially abusing striker Cameron Jerome during a 1-1 draw between Leeds and Norwich City at Carrow Road in October. The offence carries a minimum five-match ban but Bellusci denies the charge and has until January 2 to formally respond to the FA.
Redfearn said: “The club are backing him and he’s very much involved with us. His mind’s on the football.”
Rodolph Austin will also be fit to feature in Redfearn’s squad this afternoon.
The midfielder has overcome the ankle injury which forced him to sit out of United’s games against Fulham and Nottingham Forest.
Wigan are in grave trouble after a woeful start to the season which saw former manager Uwe Rosler sacked and Malky Mackay named as his replacement.
Mackay’s appointment has failed to drag Wigan out of the relegation places and they lie 23rd in the table, seven points behind Leeds.
Redfearn said: “When you look through their squad and pick out individual players, it’s very hard to understand why they’re down there.
“They’ve not had a good time but I think it’s inevitable that they’ll hit a bit of form soon, especially with Malky Mackay in charge.
“For us we won’t be reading anything into their league position or disrespecting them. They’re a good side. But if we play well then I feel it’s a game we should be looking to win.”