PHIL BARDSLEY expects a Merseyside re-run tomorrow when Sunderland come up against another of the top flight’s best-drilled defences.
Sunderland face Scouse opposition for the second successive weekend tomorrow lunchtime when they head to Goodison Park in the FA Cup quarter-final.
Last Saturday, Martin O’Neill’s men prevailed against a Liverpool side boasting the Premier League’s second most formidable backline after Nicklas Bendtner pounced on the game’s only genuine goalscoring opportunity to secure a 1-0 victory.
Bardsley is braced for an equally tight tussle tomorrow, with Sunderland and Everton laying claim to the joint fourth best defensive records in the league.
But the right-back is confident the Black Cats can end their 11-year wait for victory over the Toffees and secure a place at Wembley in the final four.
Bardsley told the Echo: “I think it will be pretty similar to last week. It will be tight there, we know what kind of team Everton are and it’s a difficult place to go.
“But with the attitude we’ve shown and the form we’ve been in, we don’t fear anybody.
“Even if we got a draw and brought them back to the Stadium of Light, it’s not the end of the world.
“Everyone’s level-headed. We all want to go in the same direction and try to win a trophy, along with finishing high in the Premier League.
“The group we’ve got here now are all genuine enough to give it a good go. The new manager has come in and everyone’s reading from the same hymn sheet and wants to do well.
“He’s bred confidence into the lads, little things here and there which are important facts. For example, from set-pieces we’re defending for our lives and that’s the way it should be.”
Sunderland will continue to be without the suspended duo Lee Cattermole and Stephane Sessegnon tomorrow, while Kieran Richardson, who missed the Liverpool game through injury, is also a major doubt.
But Bardsley believes the culture of competition cultivated by O’Neill has seen the likes of Jack Colback and Wayne Bridge thrive when introduced to the starting XI.
“Both of them (Sessegnon and Cattermole) were unfortunate in their own light. You don’t need to do much to get a red card these days,” added the Scotland international.
“But players are waiting to take the opportunity to play and training really hard. The manager can only pick 11 players and when their chance comes due to injuries or suspensions, it’s up to them to step up to the plate.
“I thought Jack Colback was outstanding against Liverpool and it’s up to the likes of him to maintain those standards.
“Bridge has not played in a few months and it’s difficult to come into a game like that against a decent team. But he did really well and I’m pleased for him.”