You could be forgiven for having forgotten about Gary Gardner. The 23-year-old (really? That young? Huh.) midfielder has spent more time injured or on loan than he has spent playing for the club. But you won't be able to forget about him entirely for at least a few more years, as Gardner and the club have come to terms on a new three-year deal that will see the midfielder with the club through the 2017-18 season.
And that's certainly good news. Given his injury history, there's no way this deal is costing Villa too much. With Gardner being so young still (and having been at Villa since he was seven), there's no reason to give up on him now. When he's healthy, he looks like he could be a solid cog in the midfield. Nothing spectacular, but something in the Ashley Westwood vein. That's a very important type of player to have around.
Gardner has appeared with the first team eighteen times after having made his debut against Chelsea in 2011. He spent last season on loan in the Championship, and was particularly impressive at Nottingham Forest. He's currently injured, but there has been no indication that it's too serious. With the depth in midfield, though, it might make sense for Gardner to spend another year out on loan.
That said, three years is just about perfect. If he can develop it will need to happen soon. And if he can't, no one can claim that Villa didn't give him a chance. Now let's hope he does the former and never allows us to forget about him again.