Date: 20th December 2011 at 3:56pm
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Martin O’Neill has quickly quashed rumours emerging today that Craig Gardner could leave the club in January.

The former Aston Villa and Birmingham City midfielder only moved to Wearside in the Summer, but was clearly out of favour under Steve Bruce.

Gardner and O’Neill worked together at Aston Villa and although Gardner hasn’t started under the Ulsterman yet owing to the renaissance of David Vaughan – another man frozen out under Bruce.

O’Neill watched Gardner score for the reserves against Manchester United before he even took charge of a first-team game and insists that the he is part of his plans.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, O’Neill said:

‘I know Craig from our days together at Aston Villa. He really is a great character.

‘He’s been a family man for a long, long time. His family are down in the Midlands.

‘I think he wants to do his best to settle here and prove the move successful.’

O’Neill continued: ‘I don’t think we’re in a position at this minute, on a more general note, to be letting people go in January, particularly given our situation at this minute.’

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