Gardner: Sunderland can be like old Villa
Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner has drawn comparisons between his current club and with his time at Aston Villa under the tenure of Martin O'Neill, believing the Black Cats can also finish consistently in the top eight.
Gardener, 25, played at Villa Park under O'Neill when the side were scaling the heights of the Premier League and even challenging the top four.
Now playing under O'Neill at the Stadium of Light, he believes Sunderland can achieve similar feats to his old club.
"Sunderland now reminds me of being at Villa when we were strengthening," Gardner told the Sunderland Echo. "You sit there and you see Ashley Young, James Milner, John Carew and you think 'flippin' hell these are good players'. You think 'I'm involved in this'.
"That's what we want to do - we want to finish high in the league. The fans deserve it. He [Martin O'Neill] wants to finish in the top six, the top eight every season and we can do that here."
Gardner moved to the Stadium Of Light last summer from Birmingham City in a deal worth £6 million.
Despite joining the club as a midfielder, he has found himself filling in at right-back this season, something he says doesn't bother him.
"Full-backs get a lot of the ball now, so playing right-back, I'm going to see a lot of it," Gardner added. "If you're comfortable on the ball, I think right-back is a comfortable position, unless you come up against wingers who are willing to run at you all the time.
"I've had that in the last two games and, without being big-headed, I think that I've been comfortable with that. I don't mind where I play. That's the attitude I've got and that's the attitude that most players should have really.
"As long as you're in the starting eleven, you should be happy with that. That's the squad we've got now. We want to win, we want to win for the fans because they turn out for us every week and why should we moan about playing in a different position when they pay money to watch us play?"