Gus Poyet has paved the way for “exceptional” Phil Bardsley to return to the Sunderland side at Swansea by praising his “spectacular” attitude – while asking Black Cats fans to give the defender another chance.
The Journal revealed last weekend that Bardsley was in line for a return to the Sunderland side and Poyet has confirmed that his past indiscretions will not be held against him when the team to take on Swansea in Saturday’s crunch match is chosen.
Indeed Poyet went even further yesterday, saying the full-back will be “important” in Sunderland’s survival fight and highlighting the defender as one of the best players in training this week.
Poyet is aware of the sensitivities of recalling Bardsley, who infuriated a section of Sunderland supporters by appearing to mock the club’s opening-day defeat against Fulham on social media.
Poyet is also considering a recall for Wes Brown, who played in a behind-closed-doors game this week as he returns to first-team contention.
Referencing the Bardsley decision, Poyet said: “I appeal to the people, please give him another chance.
“He knows what he did better than anyone, he told me he knows it wasn’t right what he did, and now he gets a chance so it’s up to him.
“Now I ask the supporters to let him have another chance.
“Let’s see how he behaves and what he does, if he makes another mistake, then he’s put himself in a very difficult position.
“Right now I think he can help us. He’s a proper full-back, he can play both sides and he can be important for us. I’m going to give him another chance.
“His attitude has been spectacular since I’ve come in, he’s seen an opportunity and he’s really put himself in place to take it.
“I saw him on the first day and he was already coming back in terms of fitness and playing.
“Then when a player comes and asks you to play football, asks to play in the Under-21s and asks to be part of the squad, that means he knows what he’s done.
“You talk about what is the future for the club and for himself and he’s willing to help. He’s been exceptional.
“I’m not going to put him on a scale to compare him with everyone else, but he’s up there with the best.
“How fit is he? He’s fit. for the weekend, yes. It’s another position at the back that we need to manage like with Wes, and with Dossena.
“We can’t go with too many players, too many changes, but at the same time we might need to use him.”
Poyet admits that Bardsley might have got “lucky” with the exit of Paolo Di Canio, who initially ruled out the chances of the defender ever playing for Sunderland again.
He sad: “I know it’s not an easy one, what I’m asking everybody is that I’ve decided it’s my responsibility to to give him another chance, and I think he could be very important for us, especially now in a position where until last week if you talk about real full backs there was only Ondrej Celustka.
“Dossena wasn’t playing and Phi wasn’t here. Tell me another full-back?
“It’s important to have him at the club, knowing how much he cares and how he puts himself about and how strong and powerful he is.
“Maybe he got lucky that there was a change of manager. Sometimes you know how it works, there is a decision in one part of the club, but then there’s somebody else so he got lucky.
“Now it’s up to him to take his chance.”
Brown may also return, with Poyet praising the experience of his veteran former Manchester United defender.
He said: “Depending on that we will make a decision on it.
“He could be everything that you need in the Premier League, he’s experienced he’s played at the highest level at one of the best teams in the world and he knows the game well.
“Hopefully we can see him very soon on the pitch.”