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Thursday 28 August 2014

Gardner delighted with Baggies move

Published 21/05/2014 | 12:37

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Craig Gardner will officially join West Brom on July 1 when his contract at Sunderland expires

Midfielder Craig Gardner was "praying" for his move to West Brom to be secured.

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Albion on Tuesday announced Gardner had signed a three-year deal, with a further year's option in the club's favour, ahead of officially joining on a free transfer on July 1 when his contract at Sunderland expires.

The 27-year-old former Aston Villa and Birmingham player was restricted to only 12 starts in all competitions for the Black Cats in 2013/14.

A potential January switch to West Brom failed to materialise, b ut, with the deal now done, Solihull-born Gardner said on www.wba.co.uk: "It's obviously a pleasure, it's a great club.

"I've got a lot of friends here and I'm just buzzing that I'm back at home in the midlands where I enjoy my football the most and feel I play my best football.

"I was linked with West Brom previously and I was just praying it happened this time. Now eventually it has happened so I'm over the moon."

He added: "People say you have to be happy at home to be happy in your job - and when you've got your friends and family around you encouraging and supporting you, then that's when you'll play your best football.

"Thankfully now I've got that."

Meanwhile West Brom have handed a new deal to academy product Liam O'Neil.

The 20-year-old, whose first-team game time so far amounts to three substitute appearances in the second half of the past Barclays Premier League season, will officially put pen to paper on July 1 on a one-year contract, plus a further year's option in the club's favour.

Albion director of football administration Richard Garlick said: "We are delighted to hand Liam a new deal.

"He made a significant leap forward during the second half of last season and showed great maturity.

"Yet again, credit must go to our academy staff for bringing him through the ranks successfully.

"The final few months of the campaign were an invaluable experience for Liam in his footballing education.

"The test for him now is to see if he can flourish in and around the first-team squad next season."

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