By Amir Mir

Gary Gardner has thanked academy coaches Gordon Cowans, Tony McAndrew and Ben Petty for helping him to progress to the first-team.

Villa announced on their official website on Wednesday morning that former player and academy coach Cowans is leaving the Midlands side after over three decades of service

Midfielder Gardner has comes through the club’s academy where he is now part of Villa’s first-team and he thanked Cowans, McAndrew and Petty for helping him get there.

“Sad to see Sid, Tony and Ben Petty leave,” Gardner wrote on his personal Twitter account. “I would like to thank you all for helping me to progress to where I am now.”

Midfielder Cowans, 57, was part of the club’s greatest ever night when he helped Villa lift the European cup in 1982, beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in Rotterdam

Solihull-born Gardner made his Villa debut in 2011 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the club’s academy product has found it difficult to cement down a regular first-team place.

He has made 23 appearances for Villa since then, with loan spells at Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry.

However, since the club’s fall into the Championship, manager Roberto Di Matteo has made Gardner part of his plans and the midfielder has made five appearances in all competitions this term.

In other Aston Villa team news, the club’s new recruit gives his verdict on the summer transfer overhaul.