Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley not afraid of tough schedule ahead of Arsenal game at Stadium of Light

A hectic schedule holds no fears for Phil Bardsley.

A hectic schedule holds no fears for Phil Bardsley.

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PHIL Bardsley believes Sunderland must make light work of their hectic fixture schedule if they are to become one of the Premier League’s heavyweights.

Sunderland face their fifth game in 13 days tomorrow when Arsenal visit the Stadium of Light, with Martin O’Neill’s men still recovering from their exertions in Wednesday’s extra-time FA Cup victory at Middlesbrough.

Full-back Bardsley is one of eight players to have started each of the last four games, with that ever-present core helping Sunderland move up to eighth in the table and progress into the fifth round of the cup.

But the 26-year-old insists fatigue should be no barrier towards the Black Cats as they prepare for back-to-back games against an Arsenal side lying just two places above them in the table after a notoriously inconsistent campaign.

Bardsley told Sportmail: “It’s a short time between the games, but these top teams have to do it week-in, week-out.

“If we want to class ourselves as one of them, then you’ve got to be able to get up for a game on a Saturday after a tough game on a Wednesday.”

Read more of Bardsley’s thoughts, plus all the latest updates on a busy weekend for North East football, in your Sportmail today and tomorrow.