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Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Wednesday, 6 October 2010 19:59 UK

Phil Bardsley becomes proud Scot after U-turn

Euro 2012 qualifier: Czech Republic v Scotland
Venue: Synot Tip Arena, Prague Date: Friday, 8 October Kick-off: 1915 BST Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport website

Bardsley 'totally committed' to Scots

By Clive Lindsay

Salford-born Phil Bardsley insists he is now a proud Scotsman after performing a U-turn to accept an invitation to join the national squad.

The 25-year-old has been drafted in by coach Craig Levein for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Spain as cover for Alan Hutton.

He had previously been asked to join the land of his father's birth.

"It wasn't a case of saying no. It was a tough decision. I was only 17 or 18," said Sunderland right-back Bardsley.

That was despite the persuasive efforts of two of Scotland's greatest-ever managers, Sir Alex Ferguson, with whom he came through the youth ranks at Manchester United, and the then Scotland boss Walter Smith.

This time, Sunderland coach Ricky Sbragia was the Scot who acted as intermediary.

We found out that he had had a change of heart from a couple of years ago

Scotland coach Phil Bardsley

"I was asked last year what the situation was," said Bardsley, who also qualifies for the Republic of Ireland. "I said I would be willing to come down.

"I was still only young when I was first asked the question. But, over the last couple of years, I have been asked the question and I have just been waiting for someone to pick up the phone and ask me on a personal basis.

"The manager's done that and I am delighted to be here."

Bardsley previously returned to his father's home city of Glasgow in 2006 for a loan spell with Rangers that ended in disappointment when he was frozen out of the team following reports of a training ground disagreement with coach Paul le Guen.

"I am 100% committed - I'm proud and my father and my family will be proud," said Bardsley, who was also farmed out to Royal Antwerp, Burnley, Aston Villa and Sheffield United before being sold to Sunderland for £2m in 2008.

"They will be delighted I'm here and part of this campaign."

Now he has been called into the Scotland squad as cover for a player struggling with injury but who kept him out of the Sunderland side last season.

Hutton, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, and John Mensah were often preferred at right-back by manager Steve Bruce.

This season, Bardsley has featured in only five of Sunderland's nine games but has started the last three.

"I got the call on Monday and it was a bit of a mad rush yesterday getting the paperwork sorted," he said.

"I'm delighted to be here and hopefully I'll be involved in the games. I'm in shape, I trained today and I'm raring to go if called upon."

Levein said he was looking for cover at full-back having already lost Rangers' Kirk Broadfoot and Barnsley's Jay McEveley.

"It has been a bit rushed. We have been aware of his eligibility for a while, but it was a matter of finding out if he was going to commit to playing for Scotland," said the coach.

"We have had two or three problems with injuries, so we chased it up and found out that he had had a change of heart from a couple of years ago and is desperate to be involved.

"I am really pleased to have him on board. He is a player who is playing every week in the Premiership, which is a big plus for us."



see also
Levein defends his losing system
08 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Czech Republic 1-0 Scotland
08 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Caldwell keen to aid Scots' cause
04 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Torres doubt for Merseyside derby
05 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Czechs without Baros for Scotland
03 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Naismith buoyed by Rangers form
01 Oct 10 |  Rangers
Scots call on Gordon and Caldwell
30 Sep 10 |  Scotland
Mackie proud of Scotland call-up
30 Sep 10 |  Scotland
Xavi to miss Spain's Glasgow trip
30 Sep 10 |  Scotland
Boyd trying too hard - Strachan
27 Sep 10 |  Scotland
No Scotland U-turn for Ferguson
27 Sep 10 |  Scotland


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