BORN AGAIN Phil Bardsley admits he needed to re-pay supporters for his indiscretions after coming in from the cold under Gus Poyet.
Bardsley netted his second in as many games yesterday to secure a fourth successive Stadium of Light victory over Manchester City and hand Sunderland a huge boost in their battle for Premier League survival.
The full-back has started all of Poyet’s five games in charge after finding himself ostracised by former head coach Paolo Di Canio.
Bardsley was forced to train with the Under-21s during the summer and was made available for transfer after he was pictured celebrating in a casino following Sunderland’s successful quest to avoid the drop last season.
The 28-year-old then alienated supporters further by mocking Sunderland’s opening day defeat to Fulham on social media - comments that earned him a club suspension and fine.
But Bardsley received a warm ovation from the terraces at the final whistle yesterday after helping Sunderland to a third successive home win and a first top flight clean sheet of the campaign.
Bardsley said: “I’m just enjoying my football again and trying to play with a smile on my face.
“The reaction from supporters meant a lot. I let them down and it was up to me to repay them with performances on the football pitch.
“I’m trying to do that as much as I can and if I keep scoring goals and keep defending the way I have done in the last couple of games, hopefully I will do that.
“But the manager has come in and brought me in from the cold and I’m enjoying myself.”