Sunderland’s Bardsley receives Scotland call-up

Phil Bardsley.
Phil Bardsley.
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IN-FORM Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley has earned a recall to the Scotland squad.

Bardsley has not represented his country for almost two years after appearing in the 5-1 friendly defeat to the USA in the summer of 2012 - seven months after his last competitive game in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Cyprus.

But Bardsley’s impressive run of form for Sunderland since being handed an olive branch by head coach Gus Poyet has been rewarded with the full-back named in Gordon Strachan’s squad today.

Bardsley was not in Strachan’s plans after the former Middlesbrough boss took charge of Scotland in January last year and he dropped further out of the international picture, following the 28-year-old’s bust-up with ex-Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.

Yet Bardsley has been one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers since Poyet took charge and he will be in contention to win his 13th international cap in the friendly against Poland on Wednesday, March 5 - three days after the Capital One Cup final.

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher has also been called up by Strachan, although there remain doubts over the 26-year-old’s fitness.

As the Echo reported yesterday, Fletcher was due to return to full training today after three weeks of treatment on a troublesome Achilles problem.

Fletcher’s reaction to that increase in his rehabilitation will determine if the £12million frontman has a chance of featuring in either this weekend’s trip to Arsenal or the Capital One Cup final eight days later.