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In wireless sensor networks, nodes in the area of interest must report sensing readings to the sink, and this report always satisfies the report frequency required by the sink. This paper proposes a link-aware clustering mechanism, called LCM, to determine an energy-efficient and reliable routing path. The LCM primarily considers node status and link condition, and uses a novel clustering metric called the predicted transmission count (PTX), to evaluate the qualification of nodes for clusterheads and gateways to construct clusters. Each clusterhead or gateway candidate depends on the PTX to derive its priority, and the candidate with the highest priority becomes the clusterhead or gateway. Simulation results validate that the proposed LCM significantly outperforms the clustering mechanisms using random selection and by considering only link quality and residual energy in the packet delivery ratio, energy consumption, and delivery latency.