WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Gary Gardner of Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa at Molineux on January 21, 2012 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Seems that Aston Villa really would like to get their injuries out of the way early this year. Or at least that's what we can hope they're doing. During the U21 team's 3-0 win over Stoke on Wednesday, Gary Gardner took a knock to the knee that sent him to the sidelines. From what Jack Woodward was saying, it looked pretty bad. Having not heard anything else though, I was hopeful that it turned out to be better than it sounded. I was wrong.
The official site brought us the news today that 20-year-old Gardner injured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and will be out for at least 8 to 9 months. He'll be having surgery soon and will - if the procedure in other situations is any indicator - begin rehab as soon as is possible.
If Villa had to lose a player at any position, midfield was the one with the most depth. Nevertheless, this is pretty upsetting news for the team and its supporters. Gardner is widely considered one of the best prospects the team has available, and has earned enough trust to have featured in 17 matches with the first team, 5 as a starter. He has lacked some polish (and I imagine that's why he was still playing in reserve matches), but he's also shown some real signs of what he can become.
And while the midfield has the most depth, it's still not great for Villa to lose yet another player. Currently they've got seven sidelined by injury, which ties them for most in the EPL. Not a great way to start the season.
We all, of course, wish Gary the best in recovering. Can't wait to see him on the pitch at Villa Park again!