Friday 01 June 2012
Aston Villa winger Marc Albrighton believes young team-mate Gary Gardner can become a mainstay of the club's midfield.
Gardner, 19, made 14 Barclays Premier League appearances for Villa last season after spending a month on loan at Coventry City in the Championship.
"Hopefully he can get more games under his belt and show what a talent he is"
- Albrighton on Gardner
And Albrighton, who has seen Gardner come through the youth ranks at Villa Park, thinks the teenager can make a central midfield berth his own in the 2012/13 campaign.
"If he can build on his performances of last season it would be fantastic," Albrighton told the club's official website. "There's no reason why he can't. He has the talent and the desire.
"Hopefully he can get more games under his belt next season and show what a talent he is.
"It's a dream come true for him to be putting on that claret and blue shirt in the first team. I know I felt the same when it first happened to me. I still do every time I put on the shirt.
"I really enjoy playing for the club. I know Gaz is the same. He's Villa through and through. He will be looking forward to the future next season."
In recent years Villa's midfield has contained the talents of players like Gareth Barry and James Milner, who both helped Manchester City win the Barclays Premier League title last term.
And Albrighton says Gardner is good enough to emulate those England stars.
"If you look at the players who have played in Villa's central midfield over the past few years, for Gaz to say he's part and parcel of that is brilliant for him," added Albrighton.
"Not long ago Gareth Barry was playing in there, James Milner was in there too. Gary played there last season for a good spell and that should give him plenty of confidence.
"Gaz is one of the most down to earth guys I know. Every time I speak to him he wants to learn as a player and get better and better. He is doing that.
"He has been fantastic for the reserves and youth sides in the last couple of seasons and I respect him for the way he has bounced back from a horrific injury too.
"He thoroughly deserves the chances he's had in the first team. Hopefully he can build on that next season."