Gary Gardner has been playing professionally at Aston Villa for eight years, but after only 33 first-team appearances and six loan moves, is it time we cut ties with the Solihull born midfielder?
When Gardner first came into the side under Alex McLeish, hopes were high for the ‘better Gardner brother’. Coming off the back of a successful NextGen campaign, in 2011-12 the boyhood Villa fan made 14 league appearances. Granted he was playing in a poor and extremely defensive side, but Gardner acquitted himself well, putting in some battling performances in midfield.
That was Gardner’s last full season with Villa until 2016-17, where his standout moment a towering header in the Second City Derby. Still, some fans have maintained that since doing his ACL playing for Coventry in 2012, he hasn’t been the same player.
During his loan spell at Barnsley last season, Gary Gardner looked at home, making 27 appearances and scoring two. The midfielder had a fairly low pass accuracy of 73%, but that illustrates the type of football the Tykes play rather than Gardner’s technical failings.
Can Gary Gardner Impress Bruce Enough in Pre-Season?
So, should Gary Gardner stay? If Villa won the play-off final in May this wouldn’t even be a discussion, putting it simply he isn’t a player of Premier League calibre. Also at 26, he can hardly be considered a prospect anymore.
However, because of Villa’s current predicament, I think he should stay. Don’t get me wrong, if an offer comes in upwards of two million for him we should take it, but right now we need all the players we can get.
If Steve Bruce stays next season and continues to play same system (a big if I know but let’s just go with it) two defensive midfielders are required. At this point in time we have no idea who’ll leave so it would be sensible to have Gardner on the books knowing he could do a job there.