Sunderland’s Bardsley: No semi-final hangover

Phil Bardsley.
Phil Bardsley.
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PHIL Bardsley insists there will be no cup hangover for Sunderland this weekend when Crystal Palace visit Wearside for a Premier League relegation six-pointer.

The Black Cats have suffered twin distractions in the cups in recent weeks – the high of a Capital One Cup final and the low of an ignominious FA Cup quarter-final exit when within touching distance of another Wembley appearance.

But the experienced defender, who was one of those who trudged miserably off the pitch last Sunday after a painful 3-0 whipping by Hull City, says the players have never lost sight of their Premier League mission.

And despite Sunderland not playing league football for a three - since the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal last month - he says the team will be more than ready to get on with the task in hand.

“We’ve got some good games coming up and plenty of players who will be up for that challenge,” he told the Echo.

“As much as we wanted to do well in cup competition, we’ve always appreciated the Premier League is our bread and butter and it’s vital that we take care of business in that direction.

“We need to cement our league status and the reality is that that’s far more important right now because it is our long-term future.

“We want a strong finish to the season and keeping the club where it belongs, in the Premier League.”

Sunderland’s cup surge has coincided with Bardsley’s rehabilitation among Black Cats’ fans this season and culminated in a recall to the Scotland squad for the full-back earlier this month.

But while the 28-year-old was delighted to play in the 1-0 win over Poland, he says his focus right now remains on Sunderland’s perilous position at club level.

“You never know what’s going to happen in this game that’s why we love it so much,” he said, reflecting on the turnaround in his fortunes.

“The Scotland recall was great and that’s maybe something to build on in the future.

“But for the moment, it’s all about the Premier League for me and for the rest of the lads too.”