Gary Gardner discusses Freedman's contract extension, was 'devastated' when Pearce left

Nottingham Forest loan star Gary Gardner has thanked former manager Stuart Pearce.

Nottingham Forest loan star Gary Gardner has told the club's official website that he was 'devastated' when Stuart Pearce left the club, but has backed replacement Dougie Freedman for success.

Gardner, 22, joined Forest on loan from Aston Villa in January, with Pearce bringing him to the club for the rest of the season during the winter transfer window.

Gardner has been a success at the City Ground, scoring four goals in 17 games - and whilst he will return to Villa this summer, Gardner admitted to the club's official website that Forest will always be in his heart.

That's almost certainly the case for former manager Pearce, too. The ex-Forest player was sacked in February after a poor run of results, with owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi doing the right thing despite Pearce's popularity at the City Ground as a player.

Gardner has since been playing under Pearce's replacement Dougie Freedman, who has made an impression with seven wins in 18 games - though six games without a win and four defeats in that spell mean the season is in danger of ending on something of a sour note.

Regardless, Freedman has now penned a contract to stay at Forest for another two years, and whilst Gardner has backed him for success, he has also revealed that he was 'devastated' to see Pearce leave the club having been the man to bring him to Forest just weeks earlier.

"Stuart Pearce brought me in, which I’m very thankful for. I’ll always look up to Stuart because he’s given me the best opportunities for England and brought me into a massive club," said Gardner.

"I was devastated when he left but Dougie Freedman has come in and been brilliant. He’s played me every game and put belief into the team that we should be at the top. I think he’s done an outstanding job and I’m buzzing he’s signed a new deal here because I think he’s the right man for the job," he added.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch