O'Neill - Gardner better in midfield

Former Villa man has impressed at right-back for Sunderland

Craig Gardner: Central midfielder has been impressive at right-back for Sunderland so far this season

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Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has said that Craig Gardner will be shifted back to central midfield once his regular first-choice right-back Phil Bardsley returns.

Bardsley is currently out of action after undergoing ankle surgery in August, with his place being taken by Gardner, who is generally a midfielder.

The 25-year-old has been impressive in his new role for the Black Cats so far this season, but O'Neill says that he is best used as a central midfielder.

Stall

"Well, I think he's acquitted himself pretty well there and he doesn't mind where he plays," he said in The Journal.

"Overall, he can play in both positions. He's improved as a full-back, he tried to read it well, he did very well with that, but he's essentially a midfield player.

"We're trying to stall him until Bardsley gets back.

"It's true that goals are a principal part of his game, that's exactly right. Absolutely. That's the part you forfeit with him playing so far back.

"In midfield, you always feel like he's going to get on the end of something."

Sunderland are currently 15th in the Premier League table with three points from as many matches.