Gardner sees bright future

Versatile player thinks Sunderland can challenge for top six

Craig Gardner: Happy to play wherever is asked to

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Sunderland utility man Craig Gardner insists the Black Cats are building a team that can mount a challenge for the European places.

The appointment of Martin O'Neill triggered an upturn in fortunes during the second half of last season, while the current league campaign has started with a pair of draws.

After bringing in the likes of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson in the transfer window Gardner, who played under O'Neill at Aston Villa, believes Sunderland now have a team which can compete in the upper reaches of the Premier League

"Sunderland now reminds me of being at Villa when we were strengthening," he told The Journal.

"You sit there and you see Ashley Young, James Milner, John Carew and you think flippin' hell, these are good players. You think, 'I'm involved in this'. That's what we want to do, we want to finish high in the league.

"The fans deserve it. Sunderland have had a yo-yo period but the gaffer is not a yo-yo manager. He wants to finish in the top six, the top eight every season and we can do that here."

"(The manager) wants to finish in the top six, the top eight every season and we can do that here."

Craig Gardner

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Position

Gardner is known primarily as a central midfielder but has been filling in at right-back at the start of the season with Phil Bardsley out with injury.

The 25-year-old says he has no problems switching positions and feels comfortable in his new role as part of the defence.

He added: "Full-backs get a lot of the ball now, so playing right-back I'm going to see a lot of it.

"If you're comfortable on the ball I think right-back is a comfortable position - unless you come up against wingers who are willing to run at you all the time.

"I've had that in the last two games and without sounding big-headed, I think that I've been comfortable with that.

"I don't mind where I play. That's the attitude that I've got and that's the attitude that most players should have really. As long as you're in the starting XI you should be happy with that. That's the squad we've got now.

"We want to win, we want to win for the fans because they turn out for us every week and why should we moan about playing in a different position when they pay their money to watch us play?"