FORMER Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley has rubbished any question of divided loyalties this weekend.
Bardsley is one of a five-strong ex-United contingent in Sunderland’s ranks, along with Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Kieran Richardson and Fraizer Campbell.
But the full-back insists that will have no bearing on Sunday’s meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, as United look to pip their neighbours Manchester City to the Premier League crown.
Bardsley said: “My head will be the same as it is in any game I’ve ever played in.
“I’m in a Sunderland jersey and my performances against Man United have always been steady and decent enough. It will be no different this weekend.
“I’ve got no loyalties anywhere else. I’ll go out there and do the best I can.
“It’s the last game of the season against the champions.
“They’re still going for the league and it’s up to us to upset the party. That’s what we’re in this league for, to compete against top teams.
“That’s what we’ll be doing.
“We’ve got one last game to make it a decent six months that we’ve had.”
Bardsley has little sympathy with what seems an impossible task for Ferguson’s men, who must better the result of Manchester City.
United boasted an eight-point lead at the summit last month, only to throw away the advantage as City have fought back to the brink of a first Premier League title.
“If it’s not to be that they win the league, then it’s their own fault,” said the 26-year-old.
“They’ve thrown it away. It’s up to us to upset the apple cart.”
Bardsley is not the only boyhood United fan in Sunderland’s ranks, with winger James McClean facing Ferguson’s side for the first time.
It has been quite a week for the former Derry City man after he capped his meteoric rise with a place in the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad.
Bardsley has not been taken aback by McClean’s continued progress, with the 23-year-old an ever-present for Sunderland since making his full debut on New Year’s Day.
“I’ve not been surprised by him,” added Bardsley.
“He’s a good footballer and a good player and that’s why he’s in the team.
“He’s in there on merit and hopefully he can continue that for the last game of the season after getting in that Ireland squad.”