By Nick Ware

21st Sep, 2021 | 3:10pm

Phil Hay: Gaetano Berardi return to Leeds United unlikely despite defensive crisis

Phil Hay has rated the chances of Gaetano Berardi making a swift return to Leeds United as unlikely, despite the club’s recent defensive crisis.

Leeds are currently shorn of the services of three central defenders – Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk – who are absent due to injury [Llorente, Koch] and suspension [Struijk].

That has left just Liam Cooper as the only senior centre-back, while Luke Ayling, who shuffled across from right-back to partner the Whites captain against Newcastle United last week, has sustained a knee injury [LUFC official website].

Cooper looks likely to be joined by 19-year-old Charlie Cresswell in their League Cup tie against Fulham on Tuesday evening, and the absence of a number of defenders led to an intriguing question by a Leeds fan, Stuart, on The Athletic’s pre-match discussion page.

Stuart asked: “Has Berardi got a team yet? Worth a temporary contract until Christmas if not, seeing as though we are short at the back, and he knows the ropes?”

“No he hasn’t, or he hadn’t last time I checked,” Hay replied. “Which seems odd because he seemed like he’d be a very good signing for someone.

“I don’t see him coming back here because he and his family were keen to return to the continent.”

Chance for Cresswell

When one door closes, another opens.

Re-signing Whites hero Berardi always seemed like a far-fetched idea – he has made it abundantly clear that he had rejected a new contract from the club earlier this year, and wanted to leave for sporting and family reasons [TuttoMercatoWeb].

Besides, the recent Whites defensive crisis is not the end of the world.

After tonight’s League Cup trip to Fulham, Leeds only have two more games until the next international break, which means they will have a chance to take a breather and hope some players recover.

In the meantime, Under-23s captain Cresswell could finally be handed a chance to impress, while Struijk will be back for the visit of Watford to Elland Road on October 2.

In other Leeds United news, a report has shared if this Whites star is set to miss Saturday’s clash against West Ham after being axed for tonight’s squad.