Gary Gardner is determined to get back in the Aston Villa first team

Gary Gardner: First-team ambitions

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Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner says the prospect of regular first-team football is driving him through his latest injury lay-off.

The England U21 international suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for the Villa U21 side in August and is set for a long spell on the sidelines.

But the 20-year-old says encouraging words from Villa boss Paul Lambert are helping him to stay positive after a second serious knee injury of his short career.

"He (Lambert) spoke with me and told me what he wants me to do and what he doesn't want me to do," Gardner told the club's official website. "I've not had that much time to work with him.

"I came on against West Ham so that gives me positive feelings that he likes what he sees in me so hopefully when I get back I'll get another chance."

And Gardner added that he will seize that chance with both hands and would play for any of Villa's teams and in any position.

"I would play anywhere for this club," he said. "I am a lad that will listen to the club and just get my head down. I've been here since I was six - nearly 15 years now.

"When I was coming back from my injury I was still young enough to play in the youth team, the NextGen, the reserves, or whatever position this club asked me to play in, I will play there. Even if it's in goal."