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SAFC won't retain forgotten Craig Gordon

CRAIG Gordon is in so many ways the perfect summer signing for Martin O’Neill and Sunderland.

Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon

CRAIG Gordon is in so many ways the perfect summer signing for Martin O’Neill and Sunderland.

Let’s take a quick look at his CV and current situation to see how many boxes he ticks.

Gordon is a proven international, vastly experienced, should be approaching the prime of his footballing career at 29, the time when most goalkeepers hit their peak, is available for nothing and, would you believe, is even willing to take a significant wage cut.

This means every one of O’Neill’s boxes has been ticked with a great big marker pen.

Yet Gordon, once British football’s most expensive goalkeeper, will be walking out of the Stadium of Light for nothing after these two last league games have come and gone.

Now that just has to grate a bit with the moneymen at the Stadium of Light.

Gordon was a surprise inclusion on O’Neill’s first-team sheet for last week’s home match against Bolton Wanderers and he showed up pretty well, despite losing two goals in the 2-2 draw.

It was his first game in 15 long months and the Sunderland players were delighted to see the long-awaited return of their almost forgotten-about team-mate, even if it looks likely to be a fond farewell.

Midfielder Jack Colback said: “The boys did not have to calm his nerves down before the match last Saturday or anything like that. Craig is a very laidback person who has played in a lot of big games, so I am sure he was not worried about coming back.

“He might have been a bit cautious because it is very hard to play again when you’ve been out for so long, but Craig is a professional and he has been around the game for years now.

“I thought did fantastic, especially when he made that save late on when Wayne’s Bridge’s pass-back dropped short.

“He also made a brilliant save in the first-half as well when he tipped on to the bar as he kept us into the game, so I am sure he would have been delighted with his performance.”

The Scot’s professionalism has never been in doubt, even if the fee Roy Keane paid for him in 2007 always seemed way too much to pay for a goalkeeper who at that time had limited international experience and had played just a handful of European ties with Hearts.

Gordon had never been seriously tested at the highest level and yet his record fee for his position was only beaten before the start of this season when David de Gea arrived at Manchester United for an eye-watering £18m.

It must be said he was doing pretty well in the Premier League until injury began to slowly but surely eat into his career.

The problems began when an ankle injury meant he missed four months in 2008.

Then, just as he was getting back to his best form, there was more surgery – this time on his knee at the tail end of the 2008/09 season.

The lucky white heather really was in short supply when, in November 2009, he broke his arm against Tottenham in a collision with Jermain Defoe. He had a metal plate removed from the arm so he could join in full training in the summer of 2010 and during a practice session a few weeks later he fractured it again.

Just when he thought things could not get any worse, following an operation to repair an anterior cruciate ligament in April 2011 Gordon was ruled out for eight months and spent another four trying for a return to fitness.

Sunderland defender Michael Turner said: “It is great, everyone is pleased to see Craig back.

“He has had 15 months since he last played, so well done to him for getting back playing. The guy has had a tough ride.”

The form of Simon Mignolet has been the main factor for Gordon’s inactivity this season and will, more than anything else, have decided his Sunderland future.

Gordon is the club’s No2 keeper and arguably even not that because Keiren Westwood is highly thought of at the Stadium of Light and has deputised for Mignolet on occasions this season.

It does not make any financial sense for Sunderland to watch a £9m signing, who despite his injury problems may still have his best years ahead of him, leave the club on a Bosman free.

However, that is what exactly what might happen this close season as O’Neill calculates that three into two just will not go.

 

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