PHIL Bardsley says Sunderland will have to beat their crumbling pitch this weekend, as well as wounded Champions League opponents Arsenal.
Both Martin O’Neill and Arsene Wenger made reference to the poor state of the pitch at the Stadium of Light when the two teams met in the league last Saturday.
And as someone who has played on the deteriorating surface over the course of the winter, Bardsley can only echo their concerns.
“The pitch is not the best at the moment,” the Sunderland full-back conceded.
“In fact, it’s probably the worst in the league, but, that said, we are trying to adapt to it and use it to our advantage because we are used to it.
“I can’t see too many top teams coming here and playing football on it.
“For the last three or four games, the pitch has been terrible. I think everybody knows that.
“But we’ll adapt to it, get on with it – that’s what we’re all about.
“We’re professionals and we go about it in the right way and try to play as much football as possible on it.”
Sunderland will have the pitch relaid over the close season, once the summer concerts – Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruce Springsteen – are played out.
In the meantime, the club will hope that the three-week break which follows this Saturday teatime’s FA Cup visit of the Gunners, before Liverpool are next guests at the Stadium of Light, will help the surface improve.
Bardsley has been among the most vocal players in praising the effect O’Neill has had since his arrival at the club at the end of 2011.
And he hopes the managerial maestro’s magic will continue to rub off in the cup when Arsenal come to Wearside for the second time in a week, this Saturday.
“The mentality to do well in the cups was always there under previous managers – we just fell short,” said the former Manchester United defender.
“We want to go a long way in this competition, the manager drills that into us.
“But we’re hard to beat at the minute, we look organised and hopefully we can keep that run going – it would be great to the final of the FA Cup.
“It’s all about bringing a bit of belief back.
“Under the last manager, we’d lost a bit of that, the results didn’t exactly breed confidence but now the results are good, everybody’s singing from the same hymn sheet.”