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Scotland stopper aims to leave behind fitness problems to win over Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill with end of contract looming for the ex-Hearts skipper

EXCLUSIVE
By Rob Stewart

Injury-hit goalkeeper Craig Gordon is refusing to give up hope that he has a long-term future with Sunderland, Goal.com can reveal.

The Scotland international is being tipped to leave the Stadium of Light on loan but he is still determined to revitalise his career under recently appointed Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill and win a new contract with the Black Cats.

The ex-Hearts skipper was resigned to leaving Wearside as he struggled to shrug off a knee injury when Steve Bruce was in charge but his return to fitness has coincided with O’Neill’s arrival and now he wants to prove himself worthy of a new contract.

With his current deal due to expire at the end of this season, Gordon is free to talk to potential new employers but instead he is focused on being part of former Celtic boss O’Neill’s Sunderland revolution.

Gordon’s spell in England has been plagued by injury, and after making just 15 appearances last season in Sunderland colours he is yet to figure for the first team this campaign following knee surgery, but he is now hoping his luck has taken a turn for the better.

“Although he is out of contract in the summer it is not necessarily over for Craig at Sunderland and there could be a sea-change there,” a source close to Gordon told Goal.com.

“It is fair to say that under Steve Bruce, Craig may have been looking to move on but under Martin things seem very different now he has come in and Craig is fit again and he has played a few reserve games which helps matters enormously.

“In the last few months of Steve Bruce’s reign he wasn’t available for selection so at that stage Craig couldn’t contemplate winning a new contract because he was injured so that was understandable.

“But Martin is an admirer of Craig’s from his days as Celtic manager and also from his days as the manager of Aston Villa when he tried to sign him. Martin tried to bring him to England from Hearts but the clubs couldn’t agree a deal and he ended up at Sunderland when Roy Keane nipped in.”

The 29-year-old Gordon joined Sunderland in 2007 in a £9 million deal that made him the most expensive goalkeeper in British football history until Manchester United splashed out £18m on David de Gea.

Gordon, who was linked with Manchester United before his career was blighted by injury problems, is currently behind Belgian international Simon Mignolet and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood in the Sunderland pecking order as he continue his comeback which gathered momentum in the reserve team clash against Bolton on Wearside on Tuesday night.

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