Bardsley hails 'lucky break' at Sunderland
Former manager Paolo Di Canio had consigned Bardsley to the scrap heap, forcing him to train with the development squad after informing the Scotland international that he did not feature in his first-team plans.
Things took an apparent turn for the worse when Bardsley suffered a broken foot while in action for Sunderland's Under-21s, ruling him out for 10 weeks.
That took him beyond the transfer window and by the time he was fit again, the Italian boss had been sacked.
Incoming manager Gus Poyet decided to give Bardsley a chance and his comeback was complete when he scored twice in as many matches before the international break, including the winner against Manchester City.
It may have been an unlikely route to redemption for the 28-year-old, but he admits his injury could well have been a positive thing for him.
"When I broke my foot in a daft challenge, I remember thinking at the time, 'Can this get any worse?'" Bardsley admitted.
"People at the club said to me it was the best thing that has happened to me at the football club because I could have been on my way out. That's a nice little thing for people to say. It hurt though!
"Now we've got to build on what we did against Manchester City.
"That was a great win but there's still a long way for us to go and we've got to show the same commitment and desire that we showed in that game for the rest of the season now."
The 1-0 triumph over City, which followed a 2-1 League Cup success against Southampton, breathed new life into Sunderland's survival hopes ahead of Saturday's trip to fellow strugglers Stoke City.