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The 25-year-old insists he is content at the Black Cats under new manager Martin O'Neill despite speculation linking him with a move away from the club

Craig Gardner has insisted that he is happy playing for Sunderland despite being linked with a move away from the club.

The Solihull-born midfielder has put in a number of eye-catching performances since his move to the Mackems in summer, scoring 3 goals.

His good form prompted speculation that he may leave the club in the next transfer window despite Martin O'Neill taking the reins from Steve Bruce.

However, Gardner has dismissed speculation insisting that a consistent run in the team is helping him enjoy his football.

He told The Journal: "You need a settled team, you have players knowing what they are doing and at the start of the season, to be honest, players did not know what they were doing - I certainly didn't.

"I was not the same player I am now and I was last season. Maybe that was me getting settled, but as I say I am settled now and we are ready.

"I don't know where the talk is coming from because I have never come out and said anything.

"It was hard at the start, but I'm enjoying it now. Playing every week has made a difference and I do feel happy now."

The 25-year-old is also looking forward to Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby with Newcastle at St James' Park, as the Black Cats look to avenge defeat earlier in the season.

He added: "August's derby was the second game of the season and for some of the lads, it was only our second game properly together. We were unlucky not to win the game - it could have gone either way.

"There is a third of the season left and we are sky-high in confidence. Newcastle will be sky-high in confidence too, so let's have it!"

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