PHIL BARDSLEY is expected to be called up to the Scotland squad today for the first time of Gordon Strachan’s reign.
The Sunderland defender has not represented his country for almost two years after appearing in the 5-1 friendly defeat to the USA in the summer of 2012 – seven months after his last competitive game in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Cyprus.
But Bardsley’s impressive run of form for Sunderland since being handed an olive branch by head coach Gus Poyet looks to have been rewarded with the full-back expected to be named in Strachan’s squad at lunchtime today.
Bardsley was not in Strachan’s plans after the former Middlesbrough boss took charge of Scotland in January last year and he dropped further out of the international picture, following the 28-year-old’s bust-up with ex-Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.
Yet Bardsley has been one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers since Poyet took charge and he will be in contention to win his 13th international cap in the friendly against Poland on Wednesday, March 5 – three days after the Capital One Cup final.
Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher is also expected to be called up by Strachan, although there remain doubts over the 26-year-old’s fitness.
As SportMail reported yesterday, Fletcher was due to return to full training today after three weeks of treatment on a troublesome Achilles problem.