Bardsley eager to play part in Sunderland revival

The Scotland international is looking to make up for lost time after missing the first two months of the season as the Black Cats look to build on their victory over Fulham
Phil Bardsley is keen cement his place in the Sunderland side after Sunday's 3-1 victory at Fulham saw them end their six-match winless run.

Bardsley, who made his first appearance of the season at Stoke last month after an ankle operation, has started three of the last four games for the Black Cats and is eager to keep his place after missing the first two months of the season through inury.

"If the manager selects me I just want to come back in and do the best I can," Bardsley told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"When you've not had a pre-season and not played many games, it was difficult for me.

"I never fear a challenge though and this is a challenge now for me to get back to the form I'd started showing over the past few years and I'm pretty sure I can do that.

"You've got to suck it in a little bit. You've got to win these football matches, that's more important than whether I go off with another pulled hamstring or whatever it may be.

"If it's to save a goal then so be it. I'm just looking to get fully fit and hopefully with the upcoming games I can really get to the top of my level.

The club's manager Martin O'Neill had turned to Craig Gardner in the 27-year-old's prolonged absence, although the Scotland international's return to fitness has now restored the former Aston Villa midfielder to his natural position.

"I'm always confident in my own ability and it was only a matter of time before I got back joining the lads at training," Bardsley added.

"No disrespect to Craig [Gardner] as he's done a great job, but if you ask him he really wants to play in midfield.

"The more games I get under my belt now the better I'll become."