Gary Gardner

Gary Gardner
Date of Birth:
6' 1" (186cm)
12st 13lbs (82.0kg)
Previous Clubs:
Sheff Wed (loan), Coventry (loan),

Gary Gardner had hoped to make a big impact for Villa in Paul Lambert's second season in charge - but not for the first time the popular midfielder was hampered by niggling injuries.

They weren't as serious as his previous knee problems but they did halt his progress in claret and blue.

It was frustrating for Lambert who's a fan of the attacking ace.

He was buzzing in the final weeks of the 2012-13 season as his latest injury hell ended.

Gardner injured his knee early on in the term and it took him the best part of six months to get back to full fitness.

Thankfully, he came back strongly and even made Lambert's squad in the closing weeks of the term.

The young midfielder has been a squad member in 2013-14 although he hasn't played a great deal.

Former boss Alex McLeish handed Gardner his debut as a substitute late on in Villa's brilliant 3-1 triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on New Year's Eve 2011.

A further appearance from the bench followed in the FA Cup third round tie at Bristol Rovers before Gardner made his first Villa start in a 3-2 victory over Wolves in January.

He continued to impress with a handful of starts and several more substitute appearances in the second half of the campaign.

It was Gardner's incredible goalscoring exploits that propelled him towards top-flight stardom.

Strikes for the second string against Wigan and Bolton got the Solihull-born ace off the mark for the season before he went on to take the NextGen Series by storm.

Gardner finished joint second in the overall top scorer charts having netted six times in the prestigious European U19 tournament.

A stunning hat-trick in Villa's 3-0 win over Ajax was perhaps the standout moment of his campaign.

But he was also firing in the goals away from Villa Park.

A few days after his exploits against the Dutch side, Gardner made a short-term loan spell to Coventry City.

It took him nine minutes to find the target on his debut in the Championship clash against Brighton and Hove Albion.

In the same month, Gardner scored twice for England U21s to help Stuart Pearce's team to a win over Iceland. It signalled a terrific turnaround for Gardner after his career was put on hold by another ACL injury suffered in December 2009.

The academy graduate did not return until midway through the 2010-11 campaign.

His return to action came as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Birmingham City in the Barclays Premier Academy League on January 8, 2011 - though Gardner well and truly announced he was back 48 hours later on an astonishing evening in Hinckley.

It was Gardner who set the ball rolling for Villa reserves' stunning 10-1 demolition of Arsenal, firstly catching out Gunners goalkeeper James Shea to break the deadlock before scoring another from the penalty spot and supplying the ammunition for Andreas Weimann and Jonathan Hogg strikes.

He netted three more times for the second string in the final stages of the season - against Wolves, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion - as well as twice for the U18s against Leicester and Reading.

The midfielder spent the last few weeks of the 2010-11 season with the first team squad where he trained alongside the club's established stars on a daily basis and earned a place in the travelling party for several top-flight games.

International recognition came Gardner's way in March 2011 when he represented England U19s in a 3-0 friendly defeat against Holland.

The 2009-10 campaign started explosively for the midfielder before coming to a frustrating and premature end with his cruciate ligament injury.

Gardner skippered the youth team and was on fire in front of goal, finding the net 14 times.

His finest moments included a hat-trick in the FA Youth Cup third round win over Rochdale.


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