Leeds United’s player of the month award for February, full-back Gaetano Berardi, has spoken about his determination to keep his place in the team now that Charlie Taylor is back fit.
The tough as nails Swiss defender has become a popular figure at Elland Road with his no nonsense approach and ability to fit in well at right and left-back.
His season has taken a number of tuns as he started out as number one choice right-back following the departure last year of Sam Byram, only to see injury hamper his chances to impress the then newly installed head coach Garry Monk last summer.
Monk went out and bought Luke Ayling, who has done well enough to hold down a regular place on the right side of defence so that when Berardi was back to full fitness he was forced to wait his turn to get back in.
That turn came when left-back Taylor suffered what turned out to be a longer term injury than originally expected last December.
Berardi came in and despite being right-footed has done a solid job to make the absence of star player Taylor less worrying than it might have been. His displays have not gone unnoticed by fans who now have two songs on the go about the increasingly popular defender.
Now it has been Taylor’s turn to wait for his place until a two-match suspension picked up by Ayling gave Monk the chance to revert back to his original first choice full-backs against Brighton. Both did well and have given the head coach an interesting dilemma when he gets Ayling back.
Berardi, meanwhile, is the latest Louis Erard player of the month award winner, as voted for by supporters and he said: “I can’t believe it, it is a big surprise, but I am happy.
“The most important thing is how the team has been doing and I have been pleased with that.
“I’ve played a lot of games at left-back and I am confident playing there and I am just trying to do my best like everyone else.
“Of course I want to keep my place in the team now, but that is up to the gaffer and I don’t want to put pressure on anyone, because it is not an easy job for him to pick the team,
“I just need to continue to train and work hard like I have been doing.”
Berardi reckons United can now kick-on after the win over Brighton and the international break that has followed.
He added: “It was a big performance, everyone gave their all and we left everything on the pitch, I think the fans, gaffer and coaching staff are all happy about that.
“It is good to get a rest over this period and it is nice to be able to see our families and spend some time with them.
“We have to come back stronger though and we will be ready for the final two months of the season.
“We want to keep getting as many good results from now until the end of the campaign.
“Hopefully we will continue to see Elland Road full like in the last few games because we need it like that.”