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Loaned-out player ponders Championship return; Bardsley on Sunderland plight & Khazri's busy summer

With an exodus of central defenders likely this summer, one Sunderland youngster presently out on loan has been pondering his chances of breaking into the Black Cats' first team next season; Phil Bardsley has been discussing the plight of his former club and Wahbi Khazri has a busy summer in store, including a likely hunt for a new club.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Youngster on returning for second-tier stint

19-year-old defender Michael Ledger - currently on loan at Norwegian side Viking Stavanger to the end of the season - says he believes Sunderland can come back stronger from relegation with a freshened up side.

The centre-half will be due back on Wearside once the current Premier League campaign is done and dusted but says he is open to extending his Scandinavian stint with the Norwegian season running through the summer months with a winter conclusion.

Ledger has played every minute of Viking's opening six games and whilst his side have only won one game, they have only conceded eight goals and the Consett-born youngster has impressed Eliteserien observers.

Coach Ian Burchnell told Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen that Black Cats staff have been to watch the teenager in action:

Sunderland have been here for a visit and seen Michael in action. They are very happy with us and this agreement as it has been.

With Sunderland likely to lose a host of senior centre-backs during the summer - Lamine Kone, Jason Denayer and Joleon Lescott for certain - the British-born manager believes Ledger could return to the Stadium of Light to stake a claim in the second-tier:

It's quite possible Sunderland will need Michael in the Championship this autumn.

He's in any case already playing at League One level...How many 19-year-olds without a single senior game under their belt go right in and play the way he does? It's very impressive. He emerges as a mature player.

And on the relegation of his club in his absence Ledger said:

I am very disappointed that Sunderland were relegated, but hopefully this gives an opportunity to build a new young team.


Phil Bardsley - Sunderland need to get back to basics

Former Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley says he has sympathy for David Moyes and has identified a continual lack of effective transfer activity as the reason his ex-club have been relegated.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Premier League
Phil Bardsley (L) celebrates a Sunderland goal against Newcastle
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Speaking on Sky Sports' Premier League Daily, the player who will be 32 this summer, said:

I feel sorry for Moyes in certain aspects. He's taken over a squad of players he doesn't neccessarily want, financially it's been tough for the managers to bring players in and that's why they've struggled.

But the right-back who spent five-and-a-half years at the Stadium of Light believes relegation could be the trigger for a desperately needed overhaul:

I know how passionate the fans are up there, but on the other hand maybe it's a blessing for the club to get back to basics and start from the beginning.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Premier League
Phil Bardsley battles for the ball with Jermain Defoe in April 2016
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Bardsley is out of contract at Stoke City this summer having spent three years in the Potteries after leaving the Stadium of Light on a free in 2014 and is likely to be released in the close season.

Most Sunderland fans would welcome him back for a second-tier, second spell on Wearside with his successors in the right-back slot proving to be a continuing disappointment since Bardsley's departure.


Wahbi Khazri and his busy summer

According to reports in his native Tunisia, Wahbi Khazri will be recalled to the North African country's national team for their upcoming African Cup of Nations qualifier against neighbours Egypt next month.

Sunderland v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Wahbi Khazri
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Coach Henry Kasperczak, with whom the Sunderland midfielder had a bust-up earlier in the year, departed the Tunisian international job last month and has been replaced by Nabil Maaloul who will restore Khazri back to the team for the game on 11th June.

Khazri is likely busy looking for another club as he nears the end of a frustrating season at the Stadium of Light. The 26-year-old has been linked with a return to Bordeaux as well as a move to Rennes, Espanyol and Real Betis.

According to the report, Wahbi Khazri is also planning his wedding which is scheduled for the 10th June.

A busy summer indeed.