Sunderland’s Bardsley is made of Hardy stuff

Arsenal's Lukas Podolski in action with Sunderland's Phil Bardsley.
Arsenal's Lukas Podolski in action with Sunderland's Phil Bardsley.

PHIL Bardsley admits the last year of his life would make a pretty good film script ... but now he just wants a happy ending to the story!

“I’d probably get Tom Hardy to play me because he can look a bit daft as well!” smiled the 28-year-old, as he looked back on a tumultuous few months in his career.

But that smile masks the pain of the journey he has been on

“It has been quite a time,” he acknowledged.

“But things have picked up for me and for the club and after a bad start and we have a great opportunity to end the season really well.

“I’d love it to end on a high in both the cup and the league and that’s what I’ll be trying to do.”

The long-serving Black Cats’ defender made unwanted headlines last May when he was pictured on social media lying on a casino floor surrounded by money on a late night out.

Then Sunderland boss, Paolo Di Canio, dealt with the transgression severely, making a public example of the former Manchester United man, banishing him from the first-team squad and suggesting he would never play for the club again.

Other trials followed for the former Sunderland Player of the Year but he was brought back into the fold by caretaker manager Kevin Ball, as was former skipper Lee Cattermole.

And that rehabilitation has gathered pace since Gus Poyet too charge of the club in October - handing the 28-year-old a place in his very first starting line-up and showing faith in the player’s ability to contribute to the cause.

Bardsley needed no second invitation to take his chance and has been pretty much an automatic choice under the Uruguayan ever since.

Along the way there have some fine performances from the full-back with goals against Manchester City, Southampton, Chelsea and a late, great cup goal against Man United at Old Trafford being highlights.

A great performance in the 3-0 win over Newcastle United also helped earn the respect of Sunderland fans afresh and now Bardsley wants those final few steps on the road to redemption.

“It has been a strange time and it is ironic that if I hadn’t broken my foot last summer then I probably wouldn’t be here,” he reflected.

“But what I’m after now is a great end of the season and we’ve got some great games coming up to hopefully enjoy.

“We’re all buzzing about the cup final and we’re all determined to give a really good account of ourselves; to give a performance that everyone can be proud of.

“But beyond that, we’re also very much aware of the importance of cementing our place in the Premier League.

“We’ve come a long way but we’re not there yet and now we have to give it one final push to make sure the campaign ends well.

“Everybody just needs to give everything between now and the end of the season.”