THE end of Craig Gordon’s Sunderland career was confirmed today when he was one of nine names on the club’s end-of-season release list.
The Scotland goalkeeper, a British record £9million signing for a keeper when Roy Keane bought him from Hearts in 2007, is now free to look for another club, with Celtic and West Ham rumoured to be among those leading the chase.
The 29-year-old was at Sunderland for five years, but his career failed to hit the heights hoped for when he first arrived amid all the hype that accompanied the Black Cats return to the top flight under Keane.
At his best, unflappable Gordon was a tremendously capable keeper for the Black Cats.
Only days ago he was presented with an award for making what was deemed the best save in the 20-year history of the Premier League – a one-handed block to a point-blank header from Bolton’s Zat Kight at the Stadium of Light last season which parried the ball over the crossbar.
But his time at Sunderland was blighted by injuries.
He broke his arm twice, serious injuries which sidelined him for many months, but he also struggled with knocks on a fairly regular basis which denied him the long run in the side which he probably needed to produce his very best form.
This season, he made only one appearance all season, ironically against Bolton, last month.
He is by far the most prominent name on the list which spans the club’s first team, reserves and academy.
Fellow keeper Trevor Carson, the former Northern Ireland Under-21 international, is released – the 24-year-old having been at Sunderland for eight years without making a first-team appearance.
Also going are former youth team keeper Lewis King.
Also being allowed to leave are young defenders Liam Bagnall and Jordan Lavender and young midfielders Brett Elliott and James Brace.
Two strikers who made something of an impact at reserve level but were unable to push further towards the first team – Oumare Tounkara and Jordan Cook – have also gone.
Frenchman Tounkara and Cook, from Easington Lane, have played at League One level on loan and are likely to find employment there, or in the division below, next season.
Meanwhile, the club confirmed that loan signings Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal), Wayne Bridge (Manchester City) and Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Wolfsburg) have all returned to their parent clubs.
As well as the departures, keeper Joel Dixon has had his scholarship extended into year three and Anthony Callaghan, Jordan Laidler and Connor Oliver have been offered professional contracts