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Bardsley's Sunderland exit in serious doubt
UNSETTLED defender Phil Bardsley looks set to start the new season at Sunderland after learning he faces eight to 12 weeks out with a broken foot.
Sunderland - set to miss out on Tottenham's Hull-bound midfielder Tom Huddlestone - have been looking to move the right-back on throughout the summer and had been expected to join either Hull City or Fulham before the end of the transfer window on September 2.
But Bardsley is now undergoing treatment on his right foot. He broke a metatarsal when he made a routine slide tackle before half-time in Sunderland Under-21s 1-0 win over Bolton on Monday afternoon.
He immediately had his foot in a brace and could be out for a couple of months at least, which is likely to cost him an August exit from the Stadium of Light.
Bardsley has not been training with the first team and manager Paolo Di Canio has made it clear to him that he wants him to go.
But now the former Manchester United full-back is coming to terms with an injury which should keep him on Wearside until January – unless there is a club willing to gamble on his fitness.
The indications are that the injury which forced Lee Cattermole off in the same game is not worrying. The Stockton-born midfielder, who also has Fulham and Hull interested, was withdrawn after feeling discomfort in his knee.
And given the problems he has had in that area in recent years, it was deemed more precautionary than anything else and he will be assessed this week as he continues his rehabilitation and builds up his fitness after missing the majority of pre-season.
By the time Cattermole is deemed fit enough for selection again for the first team, Sunderland will have started their new Premier League campaign – and Di Canio is continuing to pursue a new left-back, midfielder and striker before Saturday’s visit of Fulham.
After solving his right-back crisis by adding Czech defender Ondrej Celustka on Monday, attentions have turned once more to Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho after Liverpool’s interest in him cooled.
But one of Di Canio's "English midfielder" hopes to arrive before the start of the new Premier League season was on the verge of going elsewhere last night. Hull City have agreed a fee for Huddlestone and was expected to head for Humberside for talks last night.
And there are still talks with Juventus aimed at persuading them to do a deal for Italian striker Fabio Quagliarella, while Alessandro Matri is also an option but would present a more expensive deal.
Improving the attacking options is something Di Canio has been looking to do all summer. However, more new forwards is likely to signal more going out.
Connor Wickham, the England Under-21 international, is being tracked by Championship club Bolton, while Stephane Sessegnon continues to attract attention from abroad.
Winger James McClean is a player already sold by Di Canio and the Republic of Ireland international claims it was his decision to leave for Wigan after a difficult 12 months.
“It was coming for a while. I know it’s been said that Sunderland got rid of me, that they wanted to sell me, but that’s not actually the case,” said McClean. “Last season, as soon as we got safe, I went in to see the manager, sat down and told him I wanted to leave and the reasons why.
“And, fair play to him, he understood and they didn’t stand in my way. I just needed to play regular football and I felt it was time for a fresh start and a clean slate. He [Di Canio] was understanding.
“We had a good chat and he tried to persuade me to stay, which was obviously nice to hear, but for me it was time to move on. And the club then tried to help me get a move as well, fair play to them.”
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