Phil Hay of Yorkshire Evening Post conveyed that Leeds United can go in with Gaetano Berardi on the left and young Jamie Shackleton on the right in the game against Blackburn Rovers after the international break. The reason for these changes are injuries and suspension.
Luke Ayling saw a red in the last game against Brentford, and Barry Douglas is still doubtful for the tie against the Rovers. Both Shackleton and Berardi recently played in full-back roles for the u-23 side against Burnley’s u-23 team, and it seems likely that Marcelo Bielsa is preparing them for the Championship clash next week.
Gaetano Berardi who is himself coming back from an injury could be seen in this unfamiliar role as he has so far played in the centre back position this season. However, he is traditionally a right back so he must be aware of the challenges of being a fullback. In the last game, Bielsa used versatile midfielder Stuart Dallas in the left back role and later on in the game, Ezgjan Alioski donned the mantle of being the left-back. Berardi has filled in previously in the left back position so he must be able to handle himself in such situations. However, it remains to be seen how he would perform in a new position straightaway coming back from injury.
Out on the right, young Jamie Shackleton is likely to get a chance, and he has shown glimpses of what he is capable of this season. Bielsa had to use him in the tie against Swansea City as Liam Cooper suffered a late injury setback and the gaffer opted to deploy Luke Ayling in the centre back position with Shackleton coming in from the right. He had a decent game against the Swans and is another one of budding talents in United’s setup currently.
Someone like Tom Pearce would be disappointed as he was expected to be the second choice left back, but it seems that Bielsa isn’t too confident of starting him. Douglas is a naturally left-footed player, and it was easier for him to deliver crosses in the box. Pearce would have been a more natural choice for the left back role being a left-footed player. However, Bielsa is set to prefer the more experienced option of Berardi.
In a Bielsa system, a fullback is one of the most hardworking and essential players. When United are on the ascendency, they often switch to three men at the back and the fullbacks are given complete freedom to go forward.
Barry Douglas and Luke Ayling have done a terrific job so far playing in that position every week. It might be a costly miss for United if they end up dropping points against Blackburn Rovers.