Leeds United's Charlie Taylor in action
If Leeds fans had been told that it would be at least two months before Charlie Taylor would be back playing when he sustained an injury in the win over Brentford in mid-December, they would have been forgiven for fearing the worst regarding what it would mean for the Whites' play-off hopes.
The left-back is arguably one of the most exciting defenders in the Championship so the last thing Garry Monk would have wanted would be to lose him for a couple of months to an Achilles injury when Leeds were doing so well in their quest for promotion.
But just days after Monk confirmed that Taylor is nearing a return to training (via Yorkshire Evening Post), it now appears that the 23-year-old no longer faces an uncontested path back into the side due to the form of the man who has come in for him in recent games.
It has been no secret that Gaetano Berardi is capable of playing on the left, but it was previously widely accepted that Taylor was the considerably better option due to his ability to offer support in attack, the fact that he is naturally left-footed and, of course, his potential.
Danny Graham of Blackburn Rovers (R) and Gaetano Berardi of Leeds United in action
However, the Swiss has shown the kind of form in recent weeks - especially against the likes of Huddersfield and Bristol City last night - that suggests that he is now as much of a rival for Taylor on the left as he is for Luke Ayling in his favoured position at right-back.
Of course, there have been mistakes along the way - Huddersfield's first goal partially stemmed from the 28-year-old giving the ball away cheaply - but there can be no doubt about the desire and commitment he has shown on a regular basis to help keep the ball out of the Leeds net.
Lee Tomlin of Bristol City and Gaetano Berardi of Leeds United in action
And perhaps Taylor would remain the undisputed first-choice if he appeared to have a long-term future at Elland Road, but the fact is that the academy graduate appears destined to leave in the summer (via Guardian), and thus, Monk keeping one eye on the future perhaps strengthens Berardi's case.
And in time, Taylor may prove once again exactly why so many Premier League clubs want him (via Guardian) and may regain his spot, but Berardi's form should unquestionably ensure that he does not become complacent as he will know that he now has a genuine rival for his position rather than just an understudy.