O'Neill pleased to keep Gardner
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill is pleased to still have Craig Gardner at his disposal after keeping hold of the midfielder.
Last Updated: 07/02/12 1:53pm
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill is pleased to still have Craig Gardner at his disposal on Wearside after keeping hold of the midfielder during the transfer window.
Speculation surrounded Gardner's future last month following his struggle to settle in the North East after arriving from Birmingham in the summer.
It was feared the Midlands-born midfielder could be prised away from the Stadium of Light by a club nearer to home, with Wolves and West Brom thought to be among his suitors.
However, Gardner was still a member of O'Neill's squad when the transfer window closed last week.
And the manager, who previously worked with the 25-year-old while in charge at Aston Villa, is glad to have him for the rest of the campaign after watching him impress in Saturday's win at Stoke.
"We're pleased that the transfer deadline passed and he's still with us," O'Neill told the Northern Echo.
"He was excellent (at Stoke) and was fantastic for us on Wednesday night (against Norwich) too. I just hope he continues to be homesick and plays like that.
"He's had a problem, but the crowd really like him, he's settling down now and we'll see what happens.
"I understand how he feels. I know the lad from my time at Villa with him, he is a heck of a lad, he really is, very popular in the dressing room too."
On-loan Manchester City defender Wayne Bridge was an unused substitute at the Britannia Stadium and O'Neill says he is easing the 31-year-old in gradually.
"He's just settling down," said the Northern Irishman.
"It was pleasing to get him into a game (against Norwich) and I'm sure that was encouraging enough for him.
"But it's about players getting in on merit, and if he can adjust in that position it means we can move Kieran (Richardson) around."