There were a few worried faces from Leeds United supporters when Gaetano Berardi was required as a first-half substitute on Tuesday night against West Brom, but the defender passed the test with flying colours and proved his quality.
The Whites moved to the top of the Championship table after beating a testing West Brom side 1-0 at Elland Road, with Ezgjan Alioski’s deflected strike settling the two teams in a fierce encounter.
Leeds had to deal with the bitter blow of losing captain Liam Cooper through injury in the 34rd minute and he’s usually a key figure at centre-back.
With Luke Ayling still easing his way back from an ankle problem, it was up to Berardi to replace him in the backline.
Berardi came into a hectic match against a West Brom team that looked an attacking threat, especially in the second-half, but he managed to stand firm.
The 31-year-old is renowned for being a rash defender with bad discipline, but he delivered a mature display next to Ben White at centre-back and managed to help keep a vital clean sheet.
Berardi is a versatile defender that can play anywhere across the frontline and he proved on Tuesday he can be trusted by manager Marcelo Bielsa at centre-back if he stays focused.
The Swiss enforcer put his body on the line for the Yorkshire giants and there is no reason why he shouldn’t come into the starting XI at the weekend.
Leeds travel to Millwall in a league match before the international break and Berardi deserves to be rewarded with a start for his impact against West Brom.