Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday in hunt to sign Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley

ON HIS WAY OUT: Phil Bardsley
ON HIS WAY OUT: Phil Bardsley

FULHAM and Sheffield Wednesday are leading the chase for Sunderland discard Phil Bardsley.

Those two clubs have emerged as the ones making the early running for a player who has been frozen out by Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio.

But SportMail understands that others are also monitoring the situation.

Bardsley was always likely to leave the Stadium of Light this summer in the wake of stinging public criticism from Di Canio in the days that followed the defender being pictured at a late-night casino visit.

But the final straw is the decision to leave the 28-year-old defender at home while the rest of the squad flew out to their training camp in Italy.

Speaking at a charity sports event, he said: “I think it’s quite clear to everyone that I’m not part of the plans at the club.

“So I’m just waiting and hopefully something will pop up in the near future.

“There has been interest from other clubs so, as I say, just waiting, and hopefully something is just around the corner.”

Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday offer him completely different escape routes out of Sunderland.

Wednesday boss Jones is desperate to get Bardsley on board.

But Fulham will offer him the chance to say in the Premier League and follow the route taken by former Sunderland team-mate Kieran Richardson, who left the Stadium of Light for Craven Cottage last summer.