Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill doesn't want to lose midfielder Craig Gardner this month.

Birmingham-born Gardner, 25, is a target for Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Wolves after failing to settle in the North East following an £8million summer switch from Brum.

O'Neill has not ruled out a January departure but insisted: "I would like Craig to stay.

"There are plenty of rumours flying around but I've had a word with him.

"It's been difficult for him but it's not the case that he's desperately unhappy here because he has been treated very well by everyone."