EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke
Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner has decided to end his lengthy association with the club after slipping down the pecking order, Football Insider can reveal.
Queens Park Rangers, Brentford and Preston are among a number of Championship clubs chasing the 25-year-old, who broke into the first team as a teenager after graduating from the academy ranks.
A well-placed source has told Football Insider that Gardner, who is currently not in the starting line-up at Villa, has made up his mind to move on before the window shuts on 31 August in search of regular first-team football.
Interest is mounting in Gardner as clubs look to bolster their squads before the close of the transfer window.
Championship trio QPR, Brentford and Preston are all keen to add to their attacking options and they are weighing up moves for the goalscoring midfielder.
Gardner 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 his progress.
He 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 it appears he does not figure in Steve Bruce’s plans going forward.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, the club have all but agreed the terms of a £45,000-a-week striker transfer.