The perfect stage for the 23-year-old is one he'll simply have to be a spectator at.
Gary Gardner (@22Gards) July 31, 2015
Indeed, the Villa midfielder spent the second part of last season on loan at Forest in the Championship and was delighted when he heard news of a potential reunion.
An injury sustained in a recent friendly, however, has stripped Gardner of the chance to play for Aston Villa against Nottingham Forest on this occasion and the 23-year-old has taken to Twitter to express his heartbreak.
Gardner's injury may leave Villa a little short in midfield at the moment, although Tim Sherwood has strengthened that area over the summer. Not as much as he has strengthened up front, of course, ahead of a season that looks as though it will see Aston Villa go gung ho in the final third - in stark contrast to recent years.
Nottingham Forest have been busy with their own transfer dealings of late, of course, and both sides will no doubt benefit from this weekend's friendly. At least Gardner will get the chance to meet up with some of his former team-mates if not play against them.