Leeds United forced to play Leeds United after no-show from opponents Viitorul

Leeds United head coach David Hockaday.
Leeds United head coach David Hockaday.
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Leeds United were forced into a game between two sets of their own players after Romanian side Viitorul Constanta failed to turn up for a scheduled friendly.

United’s second pre-season fixture of the summer – due to be played at 4pm yesterday – was cancelled at the last minute following a bizarre no-show from Viitorul Constanta.

The Romanian top-flight club – owned by the legendary Gheorghe Hagi – had agreed to round off Leeds’ two-week tour of Italy with a match in Santa Cristina.

But United head coach David Hockaday was left to field two Leeds teams against each other in the absence of any opposition.

The cancellation ended a strange week in which United opened their pre-season programme with a 16-0 rout of local amateur side FC Gherdeina, setting a new record for their biggest ever pre-season victory.

A short statement from the club read: “United’s friendly match with Viitorul Constanta has now been called off due to the Romanian side failing to show up.

“The two sides were due to meet at Mulin De Coi for a scheduled match on Sunday at 5pm local time. But United have acted quickly and will now play a Leeds XI against a Leeds XI.

“This is for fitness reasons but mainly for the travelling United supporters that turned up to watch the friendly contest.”

Viitorul Constanta, whose first-team players have also been training in Italy, were asked to comment but are yet to respond.

Around 200 of United’s supporters were in Santa Cristina for yesterday’s friendly, a match which Leeds arranged towards the end of last month.

Hockaday’s squad have spent the past two weeks training in northern Italy but are returning to England today ahead of their next friendly at Guiseley on Saturday.

New signings Marco Silvestri and Tommaso Bianchi both featured in a contest staged between two United sides during three 20-minute periods.

The match finished 3-1 with Steve Morison, Noel Hunt and Rodolph Austin on target for the winning line-up and Matt Smith finding the net for the beaten team.

Leeds confirmed the addition of French forward Souleymane Doukara on a season-long loan over the weekend but did not involve him in their hastily arranged 11-a-side practice game.

The club, meanwhile, have unexpectedly pulled out of a deal to take Swiss centre-back Jonathan Rossini on a temporary basis from Sassuolo.

Like Doukara, Leeds planned to sign Rossini on a year-long loan with a view to a permanent move next summer and were on the verge of completing the signing last week, but the club are understood to have developed concerns about the defender’s fitness following his arrival at their training camp on Friday.

Owner Massimo Cellino said: “We want special players at Leeds United. Rossini didn’t show enough during the three days he trained with the rest of the team.”

United are continuing to chase Sampdoria right-back Gaetano Berardi, a 25-year-old who began his career at Brescia has been capped once by Switzerland’s national side.