This was finally supposed to be Gary Gardner's breakout season. After all the injuries and loan spells, he looked ready to put his best foot forward under Sherwood. That still might happen, but not for a few weeks. After looking pretty solid all preseason, Gardner was seen leaving Tuesday's friendly with Swindon Town on crutches. After days of silence, Gardner took to Twitter, confirming his injury but also reassuring fans that he would only be out for a few weeks, rather than the long-term absence we feared.
Minor setback major comeback I'm ready pic.twitter.com/6Eko58FBOq— Gary Gardner (@22Gards) July 24, 2015
I watched the game against Swindon, and I couldn't recall seeing any vicious tackles or challenges. So I went back to the footage after reading this news, and sure enough, Gardner spoke true. It seems like the tackle got lost amidst a flurry of substitutions from both sides, and as the incident occurred in front of the Villa bench, on the opposite side of the pitch from AVTV's cameras, it wasn't very visible to the viewers online. In the 65th minute, a Swindon player (I believe a center back) collected the ball deep in his own half, and turned upfield. As Callum Robinson closed in, the player took a heavy touch into Gardner's path. The Swindon player managed to complete a pass as Gardner challenged, but followed through to catch Gardner on his standing leg. I doubt there was any malice in it, but it was the type of challenge which could lead to very serious injuries. So while it's unfortunate that Gardner was injured, interrupting his crucial preseason, he was lucky it wasn't any worse.