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Gardner; I'll be the goalden boy; New signing Craig in Cats scoring pledge.


CRAIG GARDNER has vowed to add some firepower to Sunderland's shot-shy midfield.

New boy Gardner, who models his game on that of free-scoring Chelsea star Frank Lampard, finished as Birmingham City's 10-goal topscorer last season - netting more times than all Sunderland's midfielders put together. When Birmingham lost their battle against relegation, Black Cats boss Steve Bruce wasted no time in splashing out pounds 6m to bring Gardner's goalscoring touch to Wearside. "Any time I get the chance, I will pull the trigger," says Gardner, who will make his debut for the Black Cats against York City at Bootham Crescent in tonight's first pre-season friendly. "I have watched Lampard a lot and that is what he does - that is why he has scored so many goals from midfield over the years.

"I know the manager is looking for more goals from midfield.

"Hopefully I can continue the goalscoring form I showed last season at Birmingham and show the fans why I have been brought here.

"I have always scored a few goals - without being bigheaded, it is one of the best aspects of my game - but reaching double figures last season was my best yet so far in that department.

"I scored 10, but even then I missed a few games through injury and suspension, so if I had played more matches I might have scored more."

As one of eight midfielders at the club, Gardner expects fierce competition for places.

However, he is determined to use tonight's game to stake an early claim for a place in the starting XI for the opening-day game at Liverpool.

The 24-year-old said: "I cannot wait to put the shirt on and get started now, so I am looking forward to making my debut tonight.

"There are a lot of midfielders here so competition will be fierce, but I am confident I can break into the starting XI.

"I have not come here to sit on the bench. Sunderland have paid money for me and I have come here to play football."

Gardner is one of nine new faces to arrive on Wearside over the summer, including his old Birmingham teammate Seb Larsson and the experienced ex-Man United duo of John O'Shea and Wes Brown. He added: "I had a good season last year but, because Birmingham were relegated, there was always a chance that a Premier League team would come in for me.

"Sunderland showed interest early on and that opened my eyes because I know what a big club this is and how ambitious it is.

"Once I spoke to Sunderland, the gaffer was brilliant and the chairman was brilliant - their ambitions matched mine and there was only one decision to make.

"The manager has brought in a lot of young British players - or players with Premier League experience - and that means you know what you are going to get.

"You know they will bring graft and commitment.

"John O'Shea and Wes Brown are a case in point - at Manchester United they won every trophy going, and they have so much experience.

"I am looking forward to working with players of their calibre."


READY TO GO New Black Cat Craig Gardner. Below, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 13, 2011
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