Aston Villa loanee Gary Gardner’s main concern for now may be on helping Nottingham Forest make a late promotion bid, but the midfielder is still clearly keeping a close watch on events at his parent club.
In 19th-place in the table after the weekend’s 1-0 loss at Newcastle United consigned them to a seventh-straight Premier League defeat, Villa’s top-flight status hangs in the balance with 11 fixtures remaining, but the former trainee seems to be taking a positive view ahead of a few crucial months for the claret and blues.
Incidentally, some might argue that Gardner could be playing a key role in Tim Sherwood’s side were he back in the West Midlands, having been in fine form for Forest over the past few weeks, with his contributions highlighted as being crucial towards their current six-match unbeaten run under Dougie Freedman.
Loaned out to the Championship side for the rest of the season in January, following a five-month spell at Brighton & Hove Albion, the 22-year-old has been earning rave reviews for his performances in a deeper midfield role, and netted a stunning strike at the weekend to help them to a 3-0 win over Reading.
Hailed as one of Villa’s most promising prospects at the time of his first-team debut in December 2011, Gardner has seen a series of serious knee injuries hamper his development in recent seasons, but he now looks to be getting back to the form which had some tipping him as a future England star in the past.
Nevertheless, with Forest still having an outside chance of making the playoffs, it would be somewhat ironic if his loan club were to take Villa’s place in the Premier League, although at least Sherwood would know in those circumstances that he had a player at his disposal already battle-tested in the second-tier.