TRANSFER TALK: West Brom ponder Gardner move as Sunderland are linked to Albion striker Shane Long

Craig Gardner (right) has been linked with West Brom
Craig Gardner (right) has been linked with West Brom
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WEST Brom are rumoured to be monitoring the situation of Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner as rumours circulate that Sunderland are interested in Albion striker Shane Long.

Albion are currently managerless since the sacking of Steve Clarke - caretaker Keith Downing currently holding the reins.

But an appointment is imminent and whoever takes over will be made aware that Gardner is out of contract and could be a makeweight should Sunderland pursue an interest in Long.

The Black Cats’ top priority in the January transfer window is to improve their goalscoring threat and Long would certainly help in that direction, even though the Republic of Ireland forward has said he does not see himself leaving the Hawthorns this month.

Should the new manager not fancy Long though, he could well look to sell to Sunderland and take Gardner, who was signed by Steve Bruce for £5m from Birmingham City in 2011.

The 27-year-old midfielder has already played for Villa and Birmingham and the Brummie could add another West Midlands outfit to his CV, if Albion pursue their interest.

Should Sunderland go after Long, they are likely to find other clubs competing for his signature with Crystal Palace believed to be keenly interested in the striker.