Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood talks up Gary Gardner's prospects this season

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The academy product is ready to make his mark on the first-team.

Tim Sherwood has heaped praise on Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner and suggested he will have an important role to play this season.

The 23-year old impressed on loan at Brighton and Nottingham Forest last season - scoring six times in his 38 appearances - and his form prompted Sherwood to give him a shot during pre-season.

Once again, the former England Under-21 international showcased his talents well before an ankle injury sustained in a win over Swindon Town rule him out of the start of the season.

He is only just returning to full fitness and Sherwood will look to introduce him to the first-team in the near future.

“He’s shown me what a fantastic footballer he is since he’s re-joined the group (in training) and he’s got every chance of featuring,” said the Villa boss, in quotes published by the Birmingham Mail.

Gardner’s availability will be a boost for a Villa side in need of all the help they can get - with Saturday’s loss at Stamford Bridge their fifth consecutive league defeat - but he faces stiff competition to hold down a place in the Villains’ midfield.

The likes of Idrissa Gueye, Ashley Westwood and Jordan Veretout will all expect starting berths and Gardner’s inclusion alongside that bunch is a mark of the quality Sherwood has at his disposal in central midfield.

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