Sunderland right-back Phil Bardsley could be set to cross the divide between arch-rivals Sunderland and Newcastle United having recently been frozen out of the first-team picture at the Stadium of Light.
Thanks to some unseemly shenanigans during a late-night casino visit, Bardsley fell foul of boss Paolo Di Canio’s zero-tolerance approach to discipline and is certain to leave the Black Cats this summer. Fulham appear the most likely suitors for his signature, with Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City also credited with an interest in the Salford-born 28-year-old.
Bardsley’s whole-hearted displays earned him the fans’ Player of the Year award back in 2011 while playing in an unfamiliar left-back role for Steve Bruce, but his form dipped alarmingly in recent months and he’s now considered surplus to requirements amid the revolution currently underway on Wearside.
A move up the road to Newcastle United would possibly appeal to Bardsley, allowing him to remain settled in the north-east of England. However, the Scottish international defender would face a mammoth task to win over the Magpies’ supporters, especially given the fact he’d be viewed as the reviled director of football Joe Kinnear’s boy. Not only that, he’d also risk upsetting legions of Sunderland fans in the process if his defection were to happen.
In all likelihood, the former Manchester United, Glasgow Rangers and Villa man will be hoping Martin Jol makes a concrete offer for his services shortly, meaning he can continue playing at Premier League level without the added stress that a Wear-Tyne transfer would cause. Otherwise, he can kiss goodbye to any affection he still holds in the hearts of Sunderland followers, while perhaps inheriting a place amongst the most-hated figures on Tyneside should he choose to tread the road less travelled.