PHIL BARDSLEY has been suspended by Sunderland after appearing to make derogatory social media comments, SportMail understands.
Out-of-favour Bardsley further alienated himself from Sunderland supporters on Saturday night when an online post stemming from his Instagram account mocked the Black Cats’ opening day defeat to Fulham.
It is understood that Sunderland have taken immediate action against the 28-year-old, who has been suspended from both games and the training ground while the club investigates.
That is in line with Sunderland’s disciplinary policy, with former defender Titus Bramble suspended for six weeks in 2011 after he was arrested in the early hours of the morning after leaving a Teesside nightclub.
The length of Bardsley’s suspension is unclear, but it is a mark of how serious Sunderland are taking the full-back’s comments, which sparked a social media storm over the weekend.
Sunderland Under-21 player Scott Harrison posted a picture on Instagram after full-time on Saturday, showing the Stadium of Light tunnel, and then wrote the comment “#opening day (heart)”.
But then there was a reply from Bardsley’s Bardoman26 account which read “Great opening day. Hahahhahaha hahahhaha!!!”.
Bardsley, who has a year remaining on his Sunderland contract, has subsequently deleted his account on the photograph-sharing website.
But it is the latest incident in a total breakdown of the relationship between Sunderland and their longest serving first-team player.
The former Manchester United man earned the wrath of Paolo Di Canio at the end of last season when he was photographed in a casino surrounded by £50 nights.
Di Canio pledged that Bardsley would never play under him again and he has been true to his word, with the defender training with the U21s during pre-season and then not given a squad number by Sunderland last week.
Despite Sunderland’s eagerness to offload Bardsley though, they have been unable to remove him from the wage bill so far this summer, with interest from Fulham failing to materialise into a concrete move.
Sunderland’s hopes of selling him before the September 2 transfer deadline were then dealt a major blow seven days ago when Bardsley suffered a broken foot while playing for the U21s.