Sunderland turn attention to Craig Gardner

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was last night working to tie up a move for midfielder Craig Gardner after landing teenage striker Connor Wickham.

The Black Cats quickly put their delight at seeing off the competition to snatch the 18-year-old Ipswich frontman in an £8.1million swoop yesterday to one side to concentrate on a man they hope will be one of his team-mates next season.

Birmingham's Gardner was also on Wearside for talks with Bruce keen to tie him up as quickly as possible as he closed in on a fifth summer signing following in the wake of Ahmed Elmohamady, Wickham and Bosman free transfers Keiren Westwood and Sebastian Larsson, who will formally complete their moves on Friday.

Sunderland are hopeful of being able to prise the player away from relegated City as they prepare for a promotion push with new boss Chris Hughton knowing he will lose some of his bigger-name players, just as he did during his time at Newcastle.

If nothing else, the Black Cats have issued a statement of intent in recent weeks by getting a significant proportion of their business done early.

In committing a sum which could eventually amount to £12million to secure Wickham's services, they managed to ward off the attentions of his fellow suitors to tie up a player regarded as one of the most promising home-grown prospects in the game.

Wickham, who had been linked with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, signed a four-year deal after heading for the north-east on Tuesday evening for a medical, and Bruce could hardly have been more delighted.

He said: "A number of top sides have been chasing Connor for some time now, so naturally we are absolutely delighted he has chosen to come to Sunderland.

"He's still very young, but at 6ft 3in he's a physical presence. With his height and style of play, he will offer us a threat in front of goal and complement our existing strikers.

"We have been watching him for a while now and he is improving and developing all the time. He's a great prospect and I'm sure our supporters will love watching him play."

Wickham himself insisted the speculation surrounding his future had not affected him adversely, but he admitted he was pleased to know where he will be playing his football next season.

He told SAFC TV: "Ever since the speculation, I have never felt pressured. I have never felt intimidated by what has gone on off the pitch or who has come in or anything like that.

"But now I am obviously relieved to have everything done. The weight has been lifted off my shoulders now.

"I can get back to playing football, and I know where I am going to be next season. I just want to play now."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test