Despite heavy recruitment in the summer transfer window, Tim Sherwood has not turned his back on promising Villa youngsters. In an interview ahead of Sunday's match against Leicester City, Sherwood highlighted Gary Gardner as a player who could serve as a potential foundation for the future of Aston Villa. Sherwood expressed his pleasure with Gardner's extension, saying, "We are delighted that Gary has signed a long-term contract because we do see him as the future of the football club." Sherwood also highlighted his philosophy on young footballers, adding, "It's too easy to discard your homegrown players. I am not one to do that. We will give him every opportunity to play for the club he loves."
Gardner, who has yet to feature this season due to a leg injury sustained during Villa's pre season match against Swindon Town, signed a three-year deal in August. His Villa career has been interrupted by injuries and a number of loan spells, but upon signing his new deal, Gardner was ready to battle for a spot in Sherwood's side. "I enjoyed my time on loan," Gardner said back in August. "But now I'm determined to make an impact this season with Villa and show everyone what I'm capable of." Still working his way back from injury, praise such as that from his manager will do Gardner's confidence a world of good.
Sherwood also commented on Joe Bennett and Nathan Baker, the two young defenders who signed contract extensions prior to their loan moves to Bournemouth and Bristol City, respectively. "We see Joe as part of the plans," said Sherwood. "We saw the loan as a good opportunity for Joe to go to Bournemouth and get Premier League minutes under his belt - and keep a close eye on him too."
On Baker, Sherwood noted, "Nathan has signed a new contract too. We want him to tick that durability box of playing games." Baker, who joined fellow Aston Villa loanee Callum Robinson at Bristol, has seen his development interrupted by a constant stream of injuries. "I think 16 games in one season is the most he's ever played," added Sherwood. "If he can go to Bristol City and churn out 30 plus games, he will tick that box."