104 touches, 90% passing accuracy: Aston Villa loanee Gary Gardner shines for Nottingham Forest

The 23-year-old midfielder helped the Reds beat Bolton Wanderers 3-0 on Saturday with a dominant performance in the centre of the park.

Gary Gardner may have struggled for first-team opportunities at Aston Villa recently, but his latest performance for Nottingham Forest suggests that manager Remi Garde could come to regret loaning him out.

Saturday’s home clash with Bolton Wanderers saw the 23-year-old midfielder play his first full 90 minutes of the season after failing to feature for Villa this term, but he showed few signs of rust in helping the Reds record a comfortable 3-0 win.

In his third appearance since joining Dougie Freedman’s side earlier this month for the rest of the campaign, the Villa loanee bossed the centre of the park with 104 touches of the football, three interceptions and eight recoveries, while also completing 90 per cent of his 87 passes.

In addition, the former England Under-21 international also had four shots and created two chances, while he was not dispossessed all afternoon either.

Vs Bolton Total ShotsShots OntargetKey PassesTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTotal CrossesAccurate CrossesInterceptionsBall RecoveriesTouchesDispossessedMins Played
Gary Gardner 4 1 2 87 90% 6 3 3 8 104 0 90

Forest supporters are fairly used to seeing those kinds of displays from Gardner, of course.

The youngster previously spent the second half of last season on loan at the City Ground, when he became a firm fan favourite for his committed performances and spectacular long-range goals, netting four times in 18 appearances.

There was hope that his initial Reds spell would help him break into Villa’s first-team this term, but the emerging midfielder’s progress was halted during pre-season after finding himself on the receiving end of an "outrageous tackle" in a 2-0 win at Swindon Town.

The resulting ankle problem kept him out of training for the opening months of the campaign, and while former manager Tim Sherwood often talked up his potential – even labelling him “the future of the football club”, he has now seemingly fallen behind 19-year-old Australian Jordan Lyden in new boss Remi Garde's midfield pecking order.

Nevertheless, having only signed a new three-year deal in August, there is certainly every reason that Garde should be keeping close tabs on his Forest performances over the coming months.

Villa will likely be playing second tier football next season unless they enjoy a remarkable run-in, and given Gardner’s past Championship performances, he could well have an important role to fill in the Frenchman’s long-term plans.

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