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Bellusci Returns to the Fold

Bellusci's inclusion against Wigan Athletic signaled that Redfearn was in search of change at the back, but the dependable Italian could not patch Leeds' defensive woes.

Giuseppe Bellusci returned to the pitch on Boxing Day against Wigan.
Giuseppe Bellusci returned to the pitch on Boxing Day against Wigan.
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Boxing Day was ultimately spoiled for Leeds United after a 2-0 home defeat to a pesky Wigan Athletic side, but the return of a certain player grabbed a great deal of attention from the match. For the first time since the 2-0 home victory against Derby County, 25-year-old Giuseppe Bellusci found himself in Neil Redfearn's starting eleven.

The normally ever-present center-back had for a stretch of games been ruled out due to a hamstring strain and his absence directly corresponded to Leeds' back four turning leaky rather than intimidating. In matches against Ipswich Town, Fulham, and Nottingham Forest the team allowed a combined six goals, meaning opposing squads were tallying two goals every match.

From this defensive record it was clear that something needed to be done to change up things at the back, but Bellusci's efforts could not remedy an ailing Leeds back four. He showed relatively well on the afternoon and was hardly at fault for either of the Latics goals. Nonetheless, fans who were hoping that the former Catania and Ascoli man would turn around Leeds' fortunes and possibly contribute to a clean sheet left Elland Road disappointed.

Despite this it is important to acknowledge that Bellusci is one of the better defenders on Leeds' books. He brings solid one-on-one defending skills and a high level of awareness in the defensive third. From a statistical standpoint he has tallied 115 clearances, 39 interceptions, and 12 blocks, but his sage play could not turn things around for Leeds against Malky Mackay's side.

He has even found the back of the net two times for the club. Against Sheffield Wednesday he knocked home the equalizer off a free kick and ferociously struck home a free kick against Bournemouth. Video of the Bournemouth goal can be seen below at the 40 second mark.

While Bellusci couldn't solve things for Leeds on Boxing Day, he will surely be a welcomed sight in the starting eleven during the upcoming busy stretch of games. The club's form in the last four games reads loss, loss, tie, and loss. To put it lightly that is hardly from impressive and in terms of the table means that Leeds only amassed one out of 12 possible points.

This is stating the obvious, but this recent stretch of form means that Leeds left 11 points in the offering. Those 11 points could have vaulted the team further away from its current precarious situation near the relegation zone. With Bellusci back in the fold though there is reason to believe things could start to turn around for the Whites.

For how long he remains in the squad remains to be seen however. This past week Bellusci was charged by the FA with racist abuse of Cameron Jerome, a Norwich City's striker.

There will surely be more information that surfaces in the coming weeks surrounding this issue, but in the meantime the Leeds faithful can rest easy knowing the Bellusci's hamstring woes are behind him. All that awaits to be seen is whether his fire and drive can manifest into more positive results for Leeds.