BARDSLEY SUFERS INJURY

Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley has suffered a major injury, which will rule him out for at least 10 weeks of the new Premier league campaign. Even more than the injury, manager Paolo Di Canio will be worried about the player being sold. Bardsley has been linked with a move away from Sunderland in the last few weeks.

The likes of Fulham, Blackburn, and Newcastle United have been showing interest in the player. The transfer window is set to end in the next couple of weeks, and it looks like the player will stay at the Stadium of Light until January.

The defender certainly does not figure in the plans of the manager, but the club needed to sell him in order to raise money for new players. The defender has been training with the reserves in the last few weeks. He was also left out of the pre-season tour of the first team.

Instead, he was involved in the pre-season developed for the reserve team. The player has suffered a broken foot in the match against Bolton under 21s. He was forced to leave the field at half-time. This injury news, though, will come as good news for Newcastle United fans, who have not been happy with their club being linked with a Sunderland player.

Meanwhile, defender John O'Shea has hailed the presence of manager Di Canio, who has been unwilling to rest his players in the pre-season.

"We’ve put in a lot of graft and some of the pre-season performances have been really positive. The acid test comes when the ­Premier League starts, but hopefully this squad is better balanced than last year with better options. There is so much more competition for places,” said the former United defender. Sunderland's first match of the season will be against Fulham at home.

Bruce wants Darren Bent and Phil Bardsley

Steve Bruce and Hull City are reportedly targeting two of Bruce’s former protégés in the form of Darren Bent and Phil Bardsley. The newly promoted Premier League club has already splashed the cash on several new signings ahead of the new season and has reportedly two more targets in their transfer shortlist that they are going for.

Bent is available for a measly fee after falling out of favor with Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert and the presence of several strikers ahead of him in the pecking order and although Fulham and Newcastle United are also in the running for his signature, Bruce wants to use the trump card of his relationship with the player to bring him to the KC Stadium.

Bruce is ready to meet Villa’s £ 6 million valuation of the player who he sold to Villa for a whopping £ 24 million fee when he was the manager at Sunderland. His move will scupper any move that Newcastle United have made for the former England international and the only deterrent in the deal going through is the high wage demands of the player.

Meanwhile, Phil Bardsley is another player that is reportedly on the shopping list of the former Manchester United defender following the right back’s very public fall out with Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio. Bruce was the man who brought Bardsley to the Stadium of Light after he failed to make the grade at Manchester United and nurtured him before he was sacked.

And with Phil Bardsley himself announcing that there is very little chance of him staying on at the club, Bruce and Hull City find themselves in pole position to land the 30 year old Scotsman who has a reputation of being a fiery character and can be wound up very easily.

DI CANIO TAKES OVER

Sunderland recently appointed Paolo Di Canio as the replacement for Martin O'Neill, and the new manager has said that he is confident of keeping the club in the division. Sunderland are just one point above the relegation zone with seven matches remaining in the season.

They have been for all season long, but the recent run of results has left the club extremely close to the drop zone. Three clubs are relegated at the end of the season. Paolo Di Canio has been extremely successful in his first managerial job at Swindon Town.

However, there have been some reservations about the Sunderland manager being promoted straight from League One. The former West Ham United player, though, has said that he wants to create a professional ethic within the dressing room and extract the maximum out of his players. Di Canio has signed a two and half year contract with the club. After his appointment, the Sunderland vice-chairman David Miliband quit the club due to the past fascism remarks by the Italian. However, he refused to answer questions about his political views by insisting that he is at Sunderland as a football manager.

Sunderland will have a tough test in the first game for Di Canio, as they will be facing Chelsea during the weekend.

"It's clear that it was a shock but this if football because I know that when there is a shock somebody is happy and somebody is unhappy. It depends who came here under Martin O'Neill. It's a typical situation, but we are here for a mission, the same mission and that is to keep the club in the Premier League. To be honest, there is a foundation which is already very good," said Paolo Di Canio. Sunderland have no victories in the last five league matches.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Phil Bardsley has said that the performance of the Sunderland team was really poor in the FA Cup match against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday and the team deserved to lose that match.
Sunderland was defeated by Bolton Wanderers by 2-0 in that match and with that defeat; the Black Cats were knocked out of the FA Cup. Phil Bardsley was the captain of Sunderland in that match and he looked disappointed after the match.

In the post match press conference, Bardsley said, “That was not a good performance by us. We were far from our best. In the first half, we played decently and got a few opportunities, but, in the second half, we played some poor football.”

“We had put up a brilliant show on Saturday against West Ham United and we were expected to carry on the momentum in this game. But, the way we played today, we definitely let our fans down.”

“I felt that our approach was a bit casual today and that proved to be costly at the end. We had performed pretty well in the FA Cup in the last season, but, we didn’t manage to repeat it this time around. I want to apologize to our fans for that.”

“Now, we need to focus again on the Premier League matches. We have to play against Wigan on Saturday and we should look forward to that match. Wigan is a tough team and they are not going to give us easy opportunities. We will have to play far better than this if we have to beat them on Saturday.”

Sunderland is currently at no. 12 in the Premier League points table with 29 points. The Black Cats have played 25 matches in the league so far. They have come out victorious on 7 occasions, while, they have been defeated in 10 games. They have also played 8 draws in the league.

NOT FULLY FIT

The defender of Sunderland, Phil Bardsley, has admitted that he made a comeback in October without getting 100% fit and that was the reason; why he was looking slow in the matches that he played towards the end of last year.

Phil Bardsley had to remain out of action in the first couple of months in the ongoing season because of the ankle injury that he had discovered during the pre season training. He made a comeback in October, but, he looked horribly out of nick in the matches that he played.

After the match against Chelsea which was played in early December, the manager of Sunderland, Martin O’ Neill decided to keep him out of the starting XI in a few matches. Bardsley had to sit on the bench in six matches before he was given a starting opportunity in the FA Cup match against Bolton wanderers. Bardsley looked in decent form in that match.

Talking to the reporters after the match against Bolton Wanderers, Bardsley said, “I think I decided to make a comeback at a wrong time. I was probably 90-95% fit in October, but, I was so eager to be back again that I thought that I had regained complete fitness. But, that was not the case. I should have waited for a couple more weeks.”

“But, now, I think I have got back to complete fitness. I have been feeling well since the last two weeks and I moved well on the field today.”

“I have missed a lot of matches this season which is really disappointing. But, we are only midway through the season and there are a number of matches still to be played. I can still make a mark, but, I need to make sure that whenever I get an opportunity, I latch on it.”

HAPPY WITH MATCHES

The Sunderland defender, Phil Bardsley, has said that he is pretty happy to have been getting regular starting opportunities and he would like to contribute more for the team in the upcoming matches.

The performance of Sunderland in its previous match against Fulham was pretty good and the Black Cats won that match by 3-1. This was Sunderland’s first victory in the last 7 matches. Sunderland has to play its next match against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and Bardsley is pretty confident that his team will carry on the momentum in that match as well.

Talking to the reporters ahead of the match against West Brom, Bardsley said, “That victory against Fulham has given us a lot of confidence. We played brilliantly in that match and pulled off a much needed victory. But, we need to win a few matches in a row to improve our position in the points table.”

“Tomorrow’s match is going to be pretty crucial. West Brom is a quality side and they have been in good form recently. Their performance in the last three games has been fantastic. So, it will not be easy for us to secure all the three points in that match.”

Bardsley was injured at the start of the season and he had to miss a few matches because of that. He played his first match of the season against Stoke City last month. He has been given starting opportunities in three out of the last four matches of Sunderland. When asked about his personal form, Bardsley said, “I am pretty happy with my performance in the last couple of games. I am slowly getting back into form. But, I want to contribute more for the team. Hopefully, I would be able to do that in the further matches.”

FLETCHER IMPRESSES

The Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has said that he is extremely delighted with the debut of the new signing Steven Fletcher in the 2-2 draw with Swansea city during the weekend. The former Wolves striker was signed by the club for around £ 15 million along with the addons.

Many have said that it is a huge price to pay for the player who has only eight caps for the international team – Scotland. However, he played extremely well in his debut match against Swansea. Even more impressive was fact that he scored two goals to help Sunderland get at least a point from the home match.

Speaking after the 2-2 draw with Swansea, Martin O'Neill said that he is extremely delighted with the debut of the Scotland international. Sunderland were extremely keen on signing the player for a number of weeks. They recently wrapped up the deal to bring the player to the stadium of light for around £ 13 million, while the fee could rise to up to £ 15 million. This was his first full starting match for the club after he had earlier made his debut in the 2-0 win over Morecambe in the league cup.

"Steven will score goals and he will link up play and bring people into the game. I'm delighted for him, he's scored two goals considering he's not remotely close to match fitness. The next fortnight will help him enormously and the same goes for Stephane [Sessegnon]. They've had no kind of pre-season but we'll get fitter and we'll get stronger," said Martin O'Neill after the match. Martin O'Neill could not have been more pleased by the arrival of Steven Fletcher because Sunderland have made a poor start to the season with only one victory against Morecambe since the start of the new season.

EUROPE IS THE TARGET

Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley has said that he is hoping that the club can push for a European place this season following the significant additions they have made to the squad in the summer transfer window. Players like Carlos Cuellar has arrived at the club on a free transfer, while many more are expected to follow suit due to the presence of the former Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill. The Irishman was appointed midway through the last season and he helped the club avoid relegation. Even more impressive was the fact that he helped them finish a respectable 13th position in the Premier league.

Even though he is not expected to have the same kind of transfer funds he used to experience at Aston Villa, it is expected to be significant than in previous seasons. The Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley has grown into one of the important members of the team. He has said that the additions that the club have made in the transfer window up until now and also till the end of the transfer window are going to be significant. He hopes that they will help the club finish in the European places. It has been a long time since Sunderland experienced European football.

“Carlos Cuellar has come in and bolstered the squad so it is great news for us and hopefully there are a few more faces on the way to help us head in the direction we want to go in this season. It is up to the players now to knuckle down in pre-season, work as hard as we can and be fresh for the start,” said Phil Bardsley ahead of the start of the new season. Players like John O'Shea, Kieran Richardson and a few others are expected to make way for the addition of new signings.

Defensive concerns for Sunderland

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill could face a potential defensive headache as centre back Wes Brown suffered suspected knee ligament damage in the Black Casts 3-2 friendly victory against FC Groningen on Sunday.

The former Manchester United man, signed for a fee of an estimated £1 million last summer could face a lengthy lay off and has flown back to Wearside for immediate treatment. The medical staff at the Stadium of Light will be hoping this latest knock is not a recurrence of the knee problem sustained against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in January which ruled Brown out for the second half of last season.

Brown’s injury adds him to a growing list of unavailable players for Sunderland, with defenders Phil Bardsley and Matthew Kilgallon left at home for their side’s pre season tour after picking up knocks in training.

Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar, a new arrival from O’Neill’s former club Aston Villa, also had to be brought off during the win, but his manager has stated that this was a precautionary measure rather than another confirmed injury setback.

Nevertheless, the Sunderland management will be hoping for no more injury problems in their remaining three warm up games with Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and midfielder David Vaughan both picking up injuries of their own during the club’s tour of South Korea.

The potential long term loss of Brown could however be the most serious of O’Neills worries, and should the former England international’s knee problem be as bad as first feared O’Neill will no doubt be disappointed to lose someone he considers “ an important player” before the season has even begun.

Sunderland could be on the brink of bringing in new recruits to reinforce their injury plagued defence, with the press recently linking Villa pair Stephen Warnock and James Collins with a move to the North East.

GLAD GORDON IS BACK

Sunderland defender Michael Turner has said that the club and the staff are extremely delighted to see the return of goalkeeper Craig Gordon the first team action.

Craig Gordon has had an injury laden spell during his time at Sunderland. He has just returned to the first-team action after more than a year of not playing football, which has also increased the speculation on his future. The goalkeeper is out of contract at the end of the season, but Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has said that he will give the former Scotland international every opportunity to prove himself in the remaining Premier league matches.

Craig and was making his first start for Sunderland since February 2011 in the match against Bolton during the weekend. Sunderland managed a 2-2 draw from the match. It was a good result considering that the team had nothing to play for in the remaining three matches of the Premier league season. Following the match, defender Michael Turner said that it was a great delight to see Gordon between the sticks once again. The 29-year-old goalkeeper was once thought of as the next big thing between the sticks, but he has offered a lot of injuries since he has been at Sunderland.

"It's great, everyone's pleased to see Craig back. He's had 15 months since he last played, so well done to him for getting back playing, he's had a tough ride. It's always tough when you've been out for months on end. I'm sure he'll be pleased with how it went for him," Michael Turner said after the match. Bolton striker Kevin Davies caused a lot of problems for Craig Gordon during the match, but Turner said that it was expected because of the time he has been out of the first team action.

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