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Gary Gardner, back in action

Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner has returned to training and is set to play in this weekend's U-21 match against Fulham. The 20-year-old could see first-team action as Villa battle against relegation.

Gareth Copley

It's rare we Aston Villa supporters get a bit of good news this season, especially when it comes to injuries. So it's pretty exciting to hear that Gary Gardner trained with the first team yesterday, and is set to play against Fulham in the U-21 match on Sunday.

In case you've forgotten, Gards played in just one first-team fixture this season, the opening day defeat at West Ham, during which he came on as a sub. Just days later, he hurt his left knee in a U-21 match. The injury necessitated a cruciate ligament operation, leaving him off the pitch for seven months.

With just five matches left to play, and that "R" word still on the table, the Villa need all the help they can get. Often rationale people discount passion and desire when evaluating players, but at this point, I'd say there's nothing wrong with having a product of the Villa youth system out on the pitch, fighting for survival.

(Stay tuned -- we've got some even more heartwarming news coming up)