O'Neill wants to keep Gardner
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has underlined his determination to keep Craig Gardner, while Nicklas Bendtner is to undergo an eye scan.
Last Updated: 21/01/12 8:11pm
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill underlined his determination to keep Craig Gardner after watching the homesick midfielder seal a win over Swansea.
The former Birmingham player only arrived at the Stadium of Light last June as a £6million signing of ex-boss Steve Bruce, but he has been linked with a loan return to St Andrew's.
O'Neill earlier in January revealed Gardner was suffering from homesickness and West Brom and Wolves have consequently also shown their interest.
But after watching the 25-year-old substitute score a spectacular late goal to seal Saturday's 2-0 win over Swansea, the Sunderland boss has reiterated his wish to see the player stay.
"Gardner can score the goals," O'Neill told Sky Sports. "I don't think that anybody wants him to leave the football club.
"I know that homesickness can have an effect on you, but he has come up trumps again.
"He scored today and scored a magnificent free-kick against Wigan a couple of weeks ago. The crowd have enjoyed him."
Sunderland spent most of the win over Swansea under pressure from their visitors, but Gardner's goal wrapped up the points after Stephane Sessegnon's excellent first-half opener.
O'Neill's team also had to play the majority of the match without first-choice striker Nicklas Bendtner, who had to leave the field inside 10 minutes.
The Dane sustained a serious eye injury after being accidently kicked by Angel Rangel and the on-loan Arsenal striker is on Sunday to have a scan to determine the extent of the damage.
"The eye is in a pretty poor condition at this moment," O'Neill said of Bendtner.
"He will get a scan tomorrow morning. We are hoping that no serious damage has been done. We won't know that yet.
"The doctor is hopeful rather than anything else."