O'Neill wants to keep Gardner

Midlander suffering from homesickness in the North East

Craig Gardner: Showing the form which earned a £5million move from Birmingham

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Wolves and West Brom are both reported to want to take advantage of Craig Gardner's homesickness, but Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill is determined to keep the midfielder.

The 25-year-old has taken time to settle into life at the Stadium of Light following his £5million summer switch from Birmingham.

But his performances in the last four games, several of which have seen him deputise at right-back, have returned him to the kind of form in which then-manager Steve Bruce invested.

Successor O'Neill has seen him emerge from the shadows to establish himself in the side and his displays have not gone unnoticed by the club's fans.

Big boost

"I want Craig to stay at this football club." O'Neill told the Sunderland Echo.

"I don't think he is unhappy, but I do think he has felt a little homesick.

"But the crowd have given him a great reception in the last two games, and that was great for him. It will have given him a big boost.

"And, like most players, if you are playing games, then it helps enormously.

"Perhaps it didn't happen for him here straight away and maybe homesickness had something to do with it, but he is starting to play well now."