EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke
Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner is closing in on a move to Barnsley, Football Insider can reveal.
Gardner is currently not in the starting line-up at Villa and the 25-year-old is ready to move on in search of regular first-team football.
A well-placed source has told Football Insider that a number of Championship clubs have shown an interest in Gardner, but Barnsley are in pole position to land the goalscoring midfielder, who is a product of the club’s academy.
The former England Under-21 international has made only one appearance in the League Cup this season in the 4-1 win over Wigan.
The all-action midfielder was regarded as one of the best prospects when he broke into the Villa side as a teenager, but several changes to management personnel have held up the progress.
Gardner made 27 appearances in all competitions for Villa last season, scoring a spectacular goal for the club in the 1-1 derby draw with Birmingham City in October, but Villa boss Steve Bruce is happy to let him move to free up space in his squad.
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom is a big fan of Gardner and sees him as being a key addition to his plans at Oakwell.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, the club have ambushed Leeds’ attempt to sign a £59,000-a-week ace.