Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner hails 'underrated' Ashley Westwood

The returning loanee hopes to be lining up alongside his fellow midfielder in Tim Sherwood's new look side next season.

Aston Villa’s Gary Gardner has told the club’s official website how much he is looking forward to playing with fellow midfielder Ashley Westwood next season.

Westwood, 25, joined Villa from childhood club Crewe Alexandra in August 2012 for around £2 million and has since made 102 total appearances for the club, while recording three goals and 10 assists.

While he has received few headlines during his time in the Midlands, his consistent performances prompted ex-manager Paul Lambert to tip him for an England call-up last season, while current boss Tim Sherwood has also compared his no-nonsense approach to that of Manchester United’s Michael Carrick.

  SeasonGoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesTotal Passes GAMEPassing AccuracyTotal Tackles GAMEInterceptions GAMETouches GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Ashley Westwood 2014-2015 0 1 35 49.07 84% 1.22 1.48 61.78 27 2,152
Ashley Westwood 2013-2014 3 2 65 46.51 83% 1.6 1.37 58.91 35 3,081
Ashley Westwood 2012-2013 0 6 33 44.53 85% 1.73 2.37 56.2 30 2,462

Now Gardner, who watched Villa from afar last term during loan spells at Brighton & Hove Albion and Nottingham Forest, has added to those plaudits, labelling Westwood the club’s most underrated midfielder.

Speaking of his admiration for the former Crewe captain, he told “I think Ashley is the most underrated midfielder at the club. He gets out on the field and does his job calmly every single week.

"He sits in that midfield area and keeps the ball ticking over. His consistency is frightening. He's not looked fazed and I think he's been improving with every passing season.

"People love the 40-yard Hollywood ball - and Ashley can produce those - but his efficiency of passing is what makes him stand out.

"He gets it and gives it - and gets us moving forward. He mixes up his passing. He can play that five-yard or ten-yard ball. It looks easy but, trust me, it's not.

“He's a very clever player and one I definitely admire."

Gardner himself will now have the chance to line up alongside Westwood at Villa Park next season, having impressed Sherwood during his recent stint with Forest, where he scored four goals in 18 games.

Aged 22, the former England Under-21 international has long-been hailed as one of the club’s most exciting prospects, having made his first-team breakthrough during the 2011-12 campaign, but a succession of knee injuries have so far hampered his progress.

However, having proven his fitness and talent in the Championship last term, he now has every chance of taking the departed Tom Cleverley’s place in the side.

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