After a productive loan spell at Nottingham Forest over the second half of last term, Gardner returned to Villa in the summer with hopes of pushing himself into contention for a place in Sherwood’s first-choice XI.
However, the 23-year-old suffered a setback in the club’s third pre-season friendly at Swindon Town when he picked up an ankle problem after finding himself on the receiving end of what he deemed an “outrageous tackle”.
He is now on the road back to the first-team after missing the opening nine games of the campaign but, having just resumed training this week, Sherwood is cautious about rushing him back too soon.
"I am really pleased for Gary,” said Sherwood. “He worked very hard in pre-season and was very unfortunate to get the injury at a poor time for him. We will make sure we don't rush him back.
“He's back out training and integrating with the U21s at the moment so they can tailor a session to what he needs. Then we will bring him back accordingly.”
|2014-15 Championship||Position||Team||Goals||Assists||Key Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Tackles GAME||Duels Won GAME||Duel Success||Interceptions GAME||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Gary Gardner||MF||Brighton / Forest||6||2||26||77%||2.74||6.37||60.11%||2.03||35||2,743|
In other injury news, Sherwood also delivered positive updates on the fitness of Gabby Agbonlahor and Jores Okore.
Agbonahlor missed the weekend’s 3-2 defeat at Liverpool after being forced off at half-time of last Tuesday’s 1-0 Capital One Cup third round win over bitter rivals Birmingham City with a calf problem, while Okore has been out of first-team action since undergoing a knee operation in the summer.
The 23-year-old defender played the full 90 minutes for the Under-21s in Monday night’s 1-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion, however, and could now make his senior return after the coming international break.
"I am delighted for Jores,” added Sherwood. “The plan was for him to play 45 minutes but the guy is such a warrior, you have to drag him off the field. No-one was brave enough to drag him off.
"It was fantastic for him - and for the club. After the international break, we will get a couple more games into him and then he will be ready to go, I hope.”
On Agbonlahor, the Villa boss continued: “Gabby is improving every day. We're giving him some treatment every day and just assessing it and making sure it's right.
“We want to make sure that doesn't turn into anything a lot more serious than what it is.”
It remains to be seen whether the long-serving striker will recover in time for Saturday’s visit of Stoke City then but, having failed to score in six appearances this season, how much of an impact his potential absence would have on Villa's chances of claiming a much-needed win is open for debate.