An intriguing subplot ahead of Friday night’s Yorkshire derby between Rotherham and Leeds United has been written off thanks to an unfortunate injury to striker Luciano Becchio.
The Argentinian suffered a fractured heel in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week and will be out for a minimum of six weeks.
Not only will Rotherham have to make do without their star deadline day loan signing in the run-up to Christmas, but it also removes a spicy storyline from Friday’s fixture.
Becchio was a cult hero in his time with Leeds, scoring 87 goals in 221 appearances.
He was a rare shining light in often troubled times for the Elland Road faithful, from the moment he arrived from Spanish side Merida in July 2008, to when he left for the Premier League and Norwich City in January 2013.
Chances at Norwich were limited and his arrival at Rotherham in the final hours of deadline day on September 1 was one of the more eye-catching deals completed by a Yorkshire club in the summer window, not least because Leeds fans had harboured hopes of a return for their idol.
Not yet fully match fit, 30-year-old Becchio has still been able to make an impression for the Millers, scoring three goals, and most notably a strike in the 2-0 win over Blackburn two weeks ago. Rotherham manager Steve Evans had said he believed Becchio would reach match sharpness by the time of Leeds’s visit, a game that will be broadcast live on Sky and that is already a sell-out in the home end.
News of Becchio’s injury broke yesterday when the player himself tweeted: “I want to say that I’ve broken my ankle and I’ll be out around 3 months but I’ll be back more strong...”
A medical bulletin from Rotherham later tempered those earlier fears. “Regretfully the player will be out injured for at least six weeks with a fractured heel,” said Evans. “He picked up this injury in a behind-closed-doors match, at a point when no player was near him and he twisted to make a run in the opposite direction.
“A scan on Friday morning diagnosed the hairline fracture. Our dialogue with Norwich in relation to the player will continue to ensure we get him back playing at the earliest opportunity.”