Stoke v Villa: Upbeat Gardner ready to answer Christmas call
Gary Gardner is raring to return to first team action and has declared: "Count me in for Christmas."
Gardner made his comeback for the U21s in a 2-0 win at Wolves on Monday after missing most of this season so far with a back problem.
It comes on the back of a frustrating 12 months for the 21-year-old midfielder, who also missed the majority of last term with a cruciate ligament injury.
But his return is timely with Villa beginning a run of for Barclays Premier League games in 12 days when they travel to Stoke on Saturday.
And Gardner, an unused substitute in last weekend's defeat to Manchester United, is pushing hard to be involved in the festive action.
"I'll train hard, work hard and because there are so many games over Christmas you never know," he said.
"If you are called on you are straight in. I'm ready for it.
"It's been a while so to get back out there is brilliant for me.
"The club have been brilliant for me, so have my family and friends.
"It's been frustrating for me to come back from my knee and then have a nerve problem so hopefully I can get some more games and push on.
"I'll work hard for the gaffer. He has proved he likes playing the youngsters so hopefully I can get back in the team.
"The gaffer is playing a lot of young lads and that's how he likes it.
"It's up to him and so far he's been doing brilliantly with the lads he's brought in.
"I just work hard and it's up to the gaffer if I'm ready or not."
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