Leeds United legend Trevor Cherry believes the six players who withdrew from Saturday’s match at short notice should be sacked by the club.
In the latest episode of what has been an extraordinary season even by their standards, the Whites had to consider their options for the match with Charlton Athletic without Italian quartet Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci, Dario del Fabro and Marco Silvestri, Frenchman Souleymane Doukara and Albanian Edgar Cani after they all informed Neil Redfearn of their unavailability.
The Elland Road boss, speaking after the 2-1 defeat at The Valley, described it as a ‘freakish’ turn of events that all six had suddenly had to withdraw from his plans. He went on to explain that Silvestre had picked up a slight knock, Antenucci and Canu declared themselves unfit after training on Thursday, whilst the other three had pulled out after a light training session on the Friday.
However, it doesn’t appear as though Cherry was convinced with this explanation, and even less so about the integrity of those players who had declared themselves unavailable for action. Indeed, the former defender, who won 27 international caps for England from 1976 to 1980, went as far as to suggest Leeds should act tough and terminate the contracts of all six.
“I would sack them and take the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) on,” Cherry announced on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek. “I don’t think players can do that, it’s scandalous and it’s just another story for Leeds United that is disgraceful. I don’t know exactly the players and it might be one or two of them have got a good excuse, but it sounds too stupid to be true.”
Despite Cherry’s scepticism, Antenucci took to his twitter account to defend himself, posting in three separate messages to deny any wrongdoing and to explain that he suffered a muscle injury to his right leg in training. Goalkeeper Silvestri was also keen to refute any allegations, and posted a picture of a cut on his back suffered against Norwich City on Tuesday evening.
Cherry, though, is clearly upset at the situation and added: “In the old days you used to play with anything, cuts or one thing or another. The managers had a big say in whether you were fit or not. You didn’t just come in and say ‘I’ve got a headache, I’m going home’. I’m sure with George Graham or Don Revie, I can’t imagine what would have happened if you’d have done that.”
Leeds paid £100,000 to take Cherry from Huddersfield Town in 1972, at a time when Revie was on the lookout for an eventual replacement for Jack Charlton. He ended up playing over 400 times for the Elland Road club in all competitions during a decade’s service, during which time he won the league title in 1974 and helped them to the European Cup final the following year.