Sunday, November 18, 2007

26. Phil Bardsley

Birthplace: Salford, Manchester
Position: Defender
Appearances: 18
Joined United: 01 Jul 2001
United Debut: 03 Dec 2003 v West Brom (A)
International England

Tough-tackling Phil Bardsley is proud to fly the local flag in United's cosmopolitan squad. He was born in Eccles and bred in Salford, not far from the football pitches at Littleton Road and The Cliff where United used to train.

His aspirations were fostered from an early age as he watched players like Bryan Robson and Roy Keane going through their paces. By the time Phil started his three-year scholarship in July 2001, the club had moved its training HQ to Carrington. There, all the scholars, not just the Salfordians, could be inspired by seeing the senior players at close quarters.

Bardsley completed his journey from the Salford playing fields to the senior United ranks with a League Cup trip to West Brom in December 2003. The Reds lost 2-0 but it was still a successful night on a personal level. Sir Alex described his performance at right-back as "outstanding." He can also play at centre-back, the position he occupied in his first season with United's youth team. In his second season, 2002/03, he helped the club to win the FA Youth Cup in a feat he described as "massive for a young footballer."

He is perhaps unfortunate to be competing with club skipper Gary Neville. However, a natural successor.


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