Are you sure you're homesick Gardner continues to strut his stuff on the field
Craig Gardner may have declined the opportunity to discuss his Sunderland future but if the midfielder is homesick and unhappy on Wearside, he has a funny way of showing it when he does play.
Gardner even walked out on an interview with Match of the Day just seconds before he was due to go on camera, and saved his thoughts for Twitter.
He said he was 'buzzzzzzzing' after his unstoppable late strike sealed three unlikely points against Swansea and added to Stephane Sessegnon’s equally wonderful opener.
Leading the way: Craig Gardner (left) celebrates his goal against Swansea
He was also rather pleased with Birmingham's win over Watford and brother Gary’s full debut for Aston Villa at Wolves.
But if he was reluctant to quash rumours about a return to the Midlands, Gardner’s manager Martin O’Neill and team-mate Wes Brown laughed off the notion that he would be allowed to leave.
'He is not going anywhere,' said the former Manchester United defender who returned to lead Sunderland’s stubborn resistance to Swansea’s dominance. 'Nowhere.
'Craig is alright. Don't get me wrong, every player wants to start and he probably has not started as many as he wanted. But he will be fine.
Flying: Stephane Sessegnon (out of picture) scores against Swansea
'Honestly all the lads love him in the dressing room. He is a great player. This is not a lie, he scored goals like that all the time in training. That is the sort of player he is. He has great technique and a great shot on him, with both feet. He got a great one at Wigan too and is always pinging them in in training.'
The form of Seb Larsson, Lee Cattermole, James McClean and Sessegnon leaves just one midfield place up for grabs and Gardner, who recently had a competent spell as Phil Bardsley’s stand-in at right-back, has lost out to the energetic David Vaughan, who was actually unfortunate to be replaced by Gardner for the final 12 minutes.
O’Neill added: 'He’s unlucky not to be
in the side. We don’t want him to leave. Hopefully he can look at the
homesickness in a month or two, or a year, or a decade.
Sore one: Nicklas Bendtner left the field after being caught in the eye
'He is very family orientated and his heart is there. But this is England. It’s not like he is playing in Saudi Arabia. But just to clarify, he's not coming in every day and saying he's wanting to leave – it's just every other day!’
Gardner will start Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Middlesbrough but striker Nicklas Bendtner is very doubtful after a kick to the eye forced him off in the 12th minute. He will have a scan on Monday.
O’Neill added: 'He is very sore and his eye is really really bad. Coming off the field he couldn't see anything out of it.
'Hopefully it's just a lot of tissue but it is a possibility that he might have cracked something. We'll know more tomorrow but he's not great.’