CRAIG GARDNER is expected to finalise his move to long-term admirers West Brom before the weekend.
As the Echo revealed last week, Gardner’s Sunderland career is over after being told he would not be offered a new contract at the Stadium of Light, with his current deal due to expire at the end of next month.
West Brom have wasted no time in making their move for Gardner, with the Brummie holding talks at the Hawthorns yesterday ahead of a medical.
The Bosman deal is expected to be a straightforward one and Baggies sources expect Gardner to be a West Brom player by the end of the week, albeit his contract will not begin until July 1.
West Brom will become the third West Midlands club that Gardner has played for after previous stints at Aston Villa and Birmingham, and brings to an end a two-and-a-half year pursuit from the Baggies.
The midfielder was wanted by West Brom just six months after joining Sunderland in a £6million move from Birmingham after being left unsettled by homesickness.
There was thought to have been renewed interest from the club this January with Gardner limited to a fringe role under Gus Poyet, but Sunderland opted to keep him, rather than sell to a relegation rival.
But despite being managerless following the departure of Pepe Mel, the Baggies have finally got their man.
Gardner, who made 99 appearances for Sunderland, will join former Black Cats team-mate Stephane Sessegnon at the Hawthorns.
And they could be joined by a third Sunderland old boy, with Cardiff frontman Fraizer Campbell reported to be a target after the Welsh club’s relegation from the Premier League.