Craig Gardner was bought from Birmingham in the summer with the tag of a goalscoring midfielder and 3/1 may prove a big price that he finds the target at any time as Sunderland travel to QPR.
Gardner has only started five Premier League games since his arrival, which is somewhat surprising given Sunderland’s struggles in front of goal, but new boss Martin O’Neill has hinted that he will be restored for the trip to Loftus Road.
The 25-year-old’s eye for goal was obvious as he netted eight in the Premier League from midfield for a Birmingham side with similar scoring troubles last season and Sunderland will feel they can stay up if Gardner ends the campaign with a similar return.
He has scored once so far, but could drastically improve upon this figure if benefiting from a steady run of games.
O’Neill knows Gardner fairly well from their previous time together at Aston Villa and believes that he has the attributes to be one of the club’s best attacking options.
The manager told the Sunderland Echo: “He has a great shot, can hit the ball with both feet, but what you don’t want is him getting ahead of the game and arriving too early.
“My own view is that each season as an attacking midfield player, Craig Gardner should be thinking of double figures in terms of goals.”
With the insurance provided by David Vaughan behind him, Gardner will have the licence to get forward and knowing that he has everything to prove, 9/1 may be big value in the Premier League odds that he opens the scoring against QPR.
However, QPR’s Heidar Helguson has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League appearances and may prove the biggest rival to Gardner in the first scorer market at 5/1.