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Darren Gibson suspended by Sunderland after being charged with drink driving

by staff reporter

Londonderry-born Sunderland footballer Darron Gibson has been arrested on suspicion of drink driving following a car crash just hours before his side were due to play Preston.

Police responded to reports of a car crash in Dovedale Road in Sunderland just before midday on Saturday.

A statement on the club's website confirmed that Gibson had been suspended with immediate effect, after he "was charged with driving with excess alcohol on Saturday,March 17".

The football club has started an investigation into the matter.

Sunderland AFC's chief executive Martin Bain said: "We expect the highest standard of behaviour from our players and should any individual fall short of those standards then robust action must be taken."

The midfielder was handed a 20-month driving ban and ordered to pay almost £6,000 in fines when he pleaded guilty to hitting a cyclist while drink-driving and then fleeing the scene back in 2010.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "A 30-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of driving over the legal alcohol limit and he is currently in police custody."

Sunderland manager Chris Coleman confirmed the 30-year-old was involved as he attended a press conference following his side's 2-0 home defeat against Preston. "I was told just before the game that there has been an incident," confirmed Coleman.

"I don't know exactly.

"I have heard one or two rumours, but I have to speak with everybody here to find out exactly what has happened."

Gibson was arrested after several vehicles were damaged close to the club's Academy of Light training ground shortly before midday on Saturday as his team-mates prepared for their Sky Bet Championship clash with Preston at the Stadium of Light.

Photographs of the player being spoken to by police at the scene later emerged on social media.

The Republic of Ireland international is currently working his way back from a groin injury which has sidelined him since New Year's day.

Gibson arrived on Wearside in January last year from Everton having initially emerged from the ranks at Manchester United.

He has been plagued by injury and a lack of form for much of his time at Sunderland, but had been enjoying his best spell for the club to date until the latest injury.

Chris Coleman's side is rooted to the foot of the Championship table and five points adrift of safety following Saturday's 2-0 home loss.

Last summer Gibson caused controversy after he was filmed in a drunken rant criticising his Sunderland teammates following the club's 5-0 defeat to Celtic.

Repeating one fan's assessment, he said "we're f***ing s***" and even suggested "there are too many people at the club who don't give a f***".

Gibson, who apologised for his comments, was hit with a heavy fine and Sunderland manager Simon Grayson revealed he asked the midfielder if he had a drink problem.

"It's going to cost him a lot of money and his reputation is in tatters to a certain degree," he added.

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