Oh Gary Gardner. The first youth player I remember following and seeing loads of potential in. He could have been the home-grown hero that Jack Grealish has become. But it just has not worked out for the young man.
Years ruined by injuries. Loans spells to Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton, Nottingham Forest (twice), and, last year, Barnsley. Once Gardner moved he made the move he started 28 matches — and captained the squad three times. He added a pair goals and assists to his career tally.
The now 26 year-old midfielder has been given yet another change to make a mark on Aston Villa during this preseason. Gardner is signed for the club until 2020 after signing a long term contract at Christmas time in 2016.
The midfield is crowded with talented veterans so Gardner is not likely to even make the bench for the opener. Even some of the youth prospects are going to get the call over this former starlet.
We will always have that beautiful goal against Birmingham City and the outrageous full field celebration run.
The man has and will give his all for the team — but the question remains the same — is he good enough and can he stay healthy?