The midfielder will now hope to be given a chance in Tim Sherwood's squad.
Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner has praised the opportunity to move to Nottingham Forest that was afforded to him this year, in an interview on Sky Sports, paying credit to the Sky Bet transfer fund that helped him and Chelsea youngster move to the City Ground on loan.
The 23-year-old spent the first half of the season at Brighton in the Championship, where he played 20 times and scored 2 goals, before going on to a spell at Forest after fan Shaun Lander won £250,000 for the club he supported to use in player recruitment.
"It’s been a massive experience," Gardner told Sky Sports. "I’ve played nearly 40 games this year. If you’d have said that to me at the start of the year I’d have snatched your hand off.
"This league is as tough as the Premier League - there are two games a week. Now I know I can do that, it’ll give me experience to handle things better.
"The Sky Bet transfer fund helped massively for Forest - it brought me and Todd Kane in, and he’s done brilliant since arriving as well.
"It’s been a massive opportunity to play for a big club like Forest, I’ve enjoyed every minute."
What next for Gardner?
Long thought of as one of the most talented young players Villa have at the club, Gardner returns to a club now managed by someone who has proven in his short management career to put a big focus on youngsters that are talented enough and play with the right attitude.
With a year left on his contract, the Villa academy graduate will likely be given a chance to impress Tim Sherwood having failed to make a Premier League appearance in over two years.
With a gap in the midfield after Tom Cleverley elected to move to Everton instead of Villa, Gardner could finally claim a first team role if he does himself justice.