By Alex Stevens
Giuseppe Bellusci was omitted from the Leeds team that lost 1-0 to Burnley on Saturday because he was in “the wrong frame of mind”, according to Steve Evans.
The Leeds manager had intended to start the centre-back in the lunchtime clash at Turf Moor despite his errors in the last two matches against QPR and Rotherham directly contributed to the team squandering points.
Evans’ side lost 2-1 to his former club Rotherham last Saturday before letting slip a one-goal lead against Rangers on Tuesday to draw 1-1 after Bellusci conceded a late penalty.
The 26-year-old subsequently bore the brunt of criticism from disgruntled fans but he was given the support of the manager, who had strongly hinted that Bellusci would start against Burnley.
However, the central defender’s name was omitted from the teamsheet, as Sol Bamba returned to the side to partner Liam Cooper.
Remarkably, the decision was down to the player and not the manager.
“I was going to put him in the starting X1,” Evans told Leeds United TV before kick-off. “It was just chatting to him, and sometimes a player needs your support in a different way. I wanted to take him away from the limelight of the cameras today, freshen him up and I’m sure he’ll have a big part to play when we go to Birmingham.”
In a separate interview, Evans told Sky Sports, who were televising the match, expanded on the omission by saying Bellusci was “in the wrong frame of mind”.
Evans says Bellusci not in right frame of mind today. Why put him on the bench – what’s the point of that?
— Marc F (@billywigwam13) April 9, 2016
Bellusci was an unused substitute for the match, which cemented Leeds’ place in 15th in the Championship table.
Burnley, who have moved four points clear at the top of the table, took the lead after just one minute through Scott Arfield and Leeds were unable to level the scores as joint top scorer Chris Wood missed two excellent chances.
In other Leeds news, owner Massimo Cellino has already made a decision about the future of Evans, according to former Elland Road striker Noel Whelan.