What do Aston Villa do with Gary Gardner following his goal-scoring return to fitness?

The former England under-21 international is back in action after ankle problems.

Yesterday saw young Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner return to action for the club.

He scored for Aston Villa's reserves yesterday in a behind-closed-doors friendly.

Last season Gardner had a productive spell on loan at Nottingham Forest. He impressed during his time at the City Ground and it was hoped that he might be able to make a breakthrough into the Aston Villa first-team under Tim Sherwood this season.

The midfielder, younger brother of West Brom star Craig, unfortunately suffered an ankle injury in a pre-season friendly against Swindon Town this summer. That has kept him out of contention for Sherwood, who has admitted he is in his plans for the future.

So what do Villa do with him now he is fit?

They could send him out on loan. The midfielder is likely to be a big attraction for the majority of Championship clubs after his form for Forest last term.

However, with Villa struggling in the Premier League, maybe Gardner is ready for a chance in the Villa first-team. The 23-year-old could add some depth to the midfield position and at his age should now be either making the Villa first-team - or considering his long-term future with the club.

Gardner has not featured for the club since May 2013, it might be time for that statistic to change.

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