Gary Gardner says Championship experience means he can be a star for Aston Villa this season

Aston Villa's Gary Gardner (L) in action

The midfielder has seen his time at Villa severely hampered by long-term injury problems but is back fully fit this summer.

Gary Gardner  - Aston Villa in action

Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner has told the Birmingham Mail that he is fully fit and raring to go ahead of the new season, and suggested that his Championship experience can see him become a key player for the relegated side.

Gardner has seen his career at boyhood club Villa severely hampered by numerous fitness problems including two cruciate ligament injuries which saw him miss almost entire seasons on both occasions.

The 24-year-old has managed just 18 senior competitive appearances for the club, the last of which came in May 2013.

Aston Villa's Gary Gardner (L) in action

However, he has thrived during numerous loan spells in the Championship since then, impressing for Brighton and Hove Albion before becoming a key man at Nottingham Forest during stints in each of the last two seasons.

Now the man who has made 62 appearances in the Championship for four different clubs is back at Villa and after scoring in the pre-season friendly win over Cambridge United on Saturday he insisted he has what it takes to finally fulfil his potential for the club.

Gardner told the Birmingham Mail: "I’ve missed too much football at Aston Villa so now I want to play. I don’t want to sit around and watch. I feel fresh and fit now and I’m here to play football. I’m just looking forward to the season.

Gary Gardner (C) celebrates scoring the first goal for Nottingham Forest

"I’m back at Villa now on the back of a good finish to last season where I played 25 games. I’ve worked my socks off over the summer and I’m feeling good and looking forward to it. I’ve played 60-odd games in the Championship, too. I’m used to that league so I’m not here to sit around and watch anymore.

"The gaffer has seen me in training and he knows what he wants now. It was good to get 90 minutes under my belt last night and great to get a goal as well."

Villa fans would love to see Gardner replicate for them the kind of form he showed for Forest in recent times as he looks to finally make his mark on the side this season.

Manchester United's Davide Petrucci (R) and Aston Villa's Gary Gardner in action

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