Manchester United target Sunderland goalkeeper Gordon

Craig Gordon.

Craig Gordon.

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MANCHESTER United are believed to be preparing a £15m bid for Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon in the summer.

The Scottish international is on Sir Alex Ferguson’s radar and with Edwin van der Sar expected to retire in the summer and second-choice keeper Tomasz Kuszczak having failed to persuade the Old Trafford boss that he is a natural successor, the Red Devils could come in with a record-breaking bid for Gordon.

The Scottish No 1, who broke the British transfer record for a goalkeeper when he made a £9m move from Hearts to Sunderland in 2007, finished last season in great form.

And although the previous campaign and the current one have been marred by injury, he is now back in the side and producing more top-class displays – the pick of which was a world class save in the recent win over Bolton which was compared to the wonder-saves made by Jimmy Montgomery in the 1973 FA Cup final and Gordon Banks in the 1970 World Cup.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn and manager Steve Bruce are intent on building Sunderland into a leading force in the Premier League and see the Black Cats as a buying, rather than a selling club.

But if Sunderland could make a major profit on the keeper and reinvest some of the cash in another keeper, it would still leave substantial funds for strengthening other areas in the summer.

Gordon’s number two Simon Mignolet was at fault for Sunderland’s opening goal in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Notts County at the weekend but other than that has been in outstanding form since his arrival last summer.

During Gordon’s absence at the start of the season with injury, the Belgian Under 21 international made an excellent start to his Sunderland career and with six clean sheets so far, would have been a contender for the Premier League’s Golden Gloves award, had the Scot not returned to reclaim his first-team place.

For Bruce, the prospect of a big-money sale in order to strengthen in areas might be tempting, especially as Gordon would have only a year remaining on his contract this summer and could leave on a free in 2012 unless a lucrative new contract was agreed at the Stadium of Light.

With speculation rife, Sunderland fans should brace themselves for continued speculation over star players like Gordon, Jordan Henderson and Darren Bent.

With the Black Cats hovering just outside the Champions League places in January, it is inevitable that other clubs will be linked with the Wearsiders’ leading players.