By Amir Mir

Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner has expressed his delight in participating in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers at the Memorial stadium.

The club’s academy graduate is looking to cement his place in the first-team after several loan spells in the past few seasons and came on as a second-half substitute as he continued to build up his fitness for the forthcoming Championship season.

The Birmingham Mail reports that Gardner is looking to play a part in manager Roberto Di Matteo’s plans as the 24-year-old praised supporters after their pre-season draw last night.

The hard working midfielder made his Villa debut in 2011, but with only 16 appearances to his name he has seen his game time reduced.

Gardner has found himself out on loan to a number of Championship clubs while Villa were a Premier League outfit, but with the club’s relegation last season, the former England Under-21 international is looking forward to playing a role in helping the club back to the top flight.

Gardner has been at Nottingham Forest since 10 January 2015 and was awarded the Sky Sports #goaloftheday on 28 February 2015 for a wonder strike against Reading.

In other Aston Villa team news, the supporters react to the news that club legend Stiliyan Petrov will be offered a new role at the club.