By Noel Whelan

17th Feb, 2021 | 3:00pm

Whelan: Berardi will slot straight back into Leeds XI after training footage emerges

Marcelo Bielsa will slot forgotten man Gaetano Berardi straight back into the Leeds United starting 11 as soon as he is match fit. 

That’s according to former Whites attacker Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about Berardi’s imminent return from injury.

Berardi, 32, hasn’t played a minute of football for Leeds this season after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the end of last year’s Championship campaign.

Footage on social media has showed the defender is back training with the first team at Thorpe Arch which suggests a first appearance of the season may not be far away.

Once Berardi is match fit, Whelan claims he will be thrown straight back into the side by Bielsa.

“Berardi is full of experience. He’s an honest player who knows the club very well and always gives 100%,” Whelan told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs.

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“It’s nice to see him back in the swing of things and recovering from the injury that he had. 

“This season we have seen every club delve deep into their squads because it’s such a strange season with so many niggles and injuries happening to players. 

“It was a very quick turnaround after the end of last season and it takes its toll, we’ve seen a lot of players used who probably wouldn’t have been used in a normal season. 

“It would be great to see him back. It would be great to give him a Premier League game so he can say he played in the Premier League as well.

“Right now we’ve got two centre-halves who are out injured and not that many options in that position so when Bielsa feels he’s right, ready and match fit we will be seeing him straight back in the squad and into the team.”

Leeds have struggled with injuries to their defence this season with Liam Cooper the only defender who started in his natural position against Arsenal on Sunday.

The Whites have the chance to get back into the top half of the Premier League table on Friday night as they face Wolves at Elland Road.

In other Leeds United news, Kevin Campbell has made a big claim about Illan Meslier.