Noel Whelan has ripped into Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi after he got “torn apart” by Luton Town on Saturday.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider editor Wayne Veysey, the ex-Leeds striker claimed Berardi was replaced by Liam Cooper after an hour in the 2-1 win because he “couldn’t cope.”

The Switzerland international, 30, has started five of United’s last eight Championship matches due Cooper being afflicted by a series of niggling injuries.

BBC Radio Leeds correspondent Adam Pope covered Marcelo Bielsa’s media conference at lunchtime today and suggested the manager will stick with an unchanged XI – including Berardi in the heart of defence – against Reading tomorrow.

“Berardi has done quite well recently but on Saturday against Luton he got absolutely torn apart,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“He had to come off as he was lacking in pace and aggression, and kept getting beaten too easily. He got found out by an opponent with lots of pace and couldn’t cope in the left sided centre-back position.

“Ben White had to keep coming round from the other centre-back position to cover for him, which tells you a lot.

“Marcelo Bielsa did the right thing by bringing on Liam Cooper and the defence immediately looked a lot more solid.

“Berardi is okay in certain matches and against certain sides, but he can look way off the pace when the level goes up.”

Berardi has made 12 appearances in all competitions for Leeds this season, filling in regularly for injury-prone Cooper.

He is regarded as the third choice centre-back at Elland Road behind Cooper and the on-loan Brighton star Ben White.

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