GUS POYET has asked Sunderland supporters to give Phil Bardsley a second chance after bringing the defender back into the fold.
Bardsley was ostracised by Poyet’s predecessor Paolo Di Canio after he was pictured in a casino at the end of last season, celebrating Sunderland’s Premier League survival.
The former Manchester United man spent the summer training with the Under-21s, but then further antagonised fans by mocking Sunderland’s opening day defeat to Fulham.
Bardsley was suspended by the club and issued a public apology after he was fined heavily.
But new head coach Poyet has decided that Bardsley will be given a clean slate under his regime and has pleaded for fans to follow his lead.
Poyet told the Echo: “I have decided, with the backing of the club of course, that he (Bardsley) is a part of the club and he is available to play.
“I ask the fans, with respect, to please give him a chance because he could be very, very important for us.
“He is very happy – delighted – to have another chance. He knows what he did was wrong, but it is in the past so let’s all try and put it behind us.
“Of course, he needs to make sure there are no more mistakes because then it would be impossible.
“But he will have a chance, and he could play an important part.”
Bardsley has been back in full training with the first-team at the Academy of Light this week after recovering from a broken foot sustained playing for the U21s in August.
The 28-year-old could be in contention for this weekend’s trip to Swansea, although Poyet may decide to ease him back into action by giving him a run-out for the U21s against Chelsea, at the Stadium of Light on Saturday lunchtime.
Poyet added: “He is fit now.
“I will make a final decision tomorrow over who will go to Swansea.
“Everybody will come in ready to travel, and I will decide then (whether Bardsley goes with the first-team squad to Wales).”