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Sunderland propose Villa swap deal for wantaway midfielder

Amongst news that the player is suffering from terrible homesickness, Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill is prepared to offer Aston Villa a swap deal to make the departure of Craig Gardner a little sweeter.

Media outlets nationwide have reported that Gardner is missing home following his summer transfer to the North East and is looking for a move back further south.

The 25 year-old has only previously played for Birmingham and Aston Villa in his career and was being linked with a move to West Brom to ease his pain.

O’Neill is now proposing that the player go to Aston Villa and that the Black Cats see captain Stilyan Petrov come in the opposite direction.

The Bulgarian has played under O’Neill at both Celtic and Villa and is understood to enjoy a great relationship with his former manager.

As a result, the Northern Irishman is looking to link back up with the central midfielder and is hoping to complete a January deal with Gardner as a makeweight.

The deal may tempt both manager and player at Villa Park as although Alex McCleish wouldn’t necessarily be crazy about letting go of his captain, the idea of bringing in a playmaker seven years his younger may draw his attention.

Petrov could jump at the chance to work with the man who led him to three 6th placed Premier League finishes not so long ago, and with Sunderland heading nowhere but up since his takeover as manager, the switch starts to look even more appetizing.

Villa would still be expected to pay £1m cash if a deal were to be finalized, and with less than two weeks to go until the January transfer window closes, both sides will need to work quickly to reach an agreement.

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