Gardner sets scoring target
Craig Gardner is again setting his sights on a double figured goalscoring return from Sunderland's midfield ahead of the new season
The former Birmingham City man scored ten goals for the Blues in his last campaign at St. Andrew's before their relegation from the Premier League, and he would love to get back into the same groove for the Black Cats. His first year at the Stadium of Light was something of a start-stop affair, as he found himself used sparingly by Steve Bruce and then asked to fill in at right-back on occasions by his successor Martin O'Neill. He is now relishing the prospect of the new season after spending the summer working hard on his fitness in order to secure a place in his favoured role. He said: "I feel I am a goalscoring midfielder and for me next season I want to get into double figures again, like I did the previous season at Birmingham City. "The first half of last season didn't do me any favours as I wasn't picked by Steve Bruce. I came here as an attacking midfielder and I don't know what I ended up as. I played every position bar keeper. "Don't get me wrong, I don't mind playing anywhere as I just want to get into the team, but I feel like an attacking midfielder." His lack of a consistent run last season fuelled speculation that Gardner was homesick in the North-East, but the player himself is adamant that is not the case He added: "I do like it up here. I have never once come out and said I didn't like it. "I did say I found it hard and I'll admit that. It was hard. At the start when I first moved here it was a bit of a reality check for me. I had moved away from Birmingham, where I have always been but I like it here now. "Martin O'Neill said it was the North-east not the Middle East, which was quite funny. I can take jokes like that on the chin because it was funny, but I have wised up to the situation now and I really enjoy it now. The lads have really helped me along and I am loving it here."