Phil Bardsley nears Sunderland return?

Phil Bardsley and Lucas Jutkiewicz
© PA Photos
Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley steps up his recovery from an ankle injury.

Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley is nearing a return to first-team action for the club.

The 27-year-old has not played for the Black Cats since injuring his ankle in pre-season, but will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Thursday, according to Sky Sports News.

The Scotland international had not been expected to feature until January, but he is several weeks ahead in recovery.

Bardsley joined Sunderland from Manchester United in 2008.

Phil Bardsley and Lucas Jutkiewicz
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