The 22-year-old midfielder wants to emulate his hero's Liverpool career at his own boyhood club.
Gardner, 22, has long-been considered one of Villa’s brightest prospects, coming up through the ranks to earn his first-team debut in December 2011, but two serious knee injuries have derailed his progress with his hometown club in recent seasons.
However, after spending the first half of this term on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion, the former England Under-21 international would go on to earn rave reviews during a further short-term stint with Nottingham Forest, scoring four goals in 18 games, while showcasing some of the potential which once even saw him compared to Gerrard.
|Team||Goals||Assists||Total Key Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Tackles GAME||Interceptions GAME||Ball Recoveries GAME||Dispossessed GAME||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Gary Gardner||Brighton / Forest||6||2||26||77%||2.74||2.03||7.29||0.77||35||2,743|
He has now returned to Villa to train with the senior squad before the summer break, with the hope of putting himself in Sherwood’s plans for the future and adding to the 18 appearances he made for the claret and blues between 2011 and 2013.
In addition, the Birmingham-native is taking inspiration from the plaudits his all-time hero Gerrard has received in recent weeks ahead of his departure for MLS and, just like the Liverpool captain, would love nothing more than to become a midfield legend at his childhood club.
It's every footballer's dream to stay at one club,” said Gardner. "My hero Steven Gerrard did it at Liverpool and I'd love to do it with my team Villa.
"I have been here since I was six-years-old and made it through the development phases and into the first team. It would be great to get in there, become a regular and stay here for the rest of my playing days.
"Gerrard could have gone anywhere - he was linked with Real Madrid, Chelsea…places like that. He was the best player in the world but he stayed at his team and was rewarded with success there in the Champions League and the FA Cup.
"He is a legend in his own city. I am not sure it gets any better than that to be honest. I'd love to do the same."
Continuing on his ambitions for next season, Gardner added: "At the end of my season, it was brilliant when I got the call that the gaffer wanted to have a look at me to see what I could offer.
"To hear the gaffer wanted to have a look at me was exciting - and great news. Hopefully next season I can impress - and I'd love to play over 30 games for Villa."