Premier League

Gardner - Blues to surpass Villa

Former Villa player believes Blues are destined to become top dogs

Gardner: Spent five years at Villa

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Craig Gardner believes Birmingham have the potential to become the leading club in the city ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Aston Villa.

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The city rivals clash at Villa Park and have also been drawn to meet in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup at St Andrews in a month's time.

The midfielder left Villa in January to join his boyhood heroes after becoming frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities under then manager Martin O'Neill.

Gardner has warned his former club Villa that they should be looking over their shoulder after the upturn in fortunes of the Blues under Alex McLeish.

"We're the underdogs at the minute," claimed Gardner. "Villa have been the top team for the last few years.

"Now we're moving up the table and doing well every week. Last season we finished really high and we're looking to improve on that.

"Villa are looking over their shoulders now, and so they should be. There is the potential to become the city's top team.

'Underdogs'

"I'd like Villa to be underdogs and Blues to be above them. Time will tell won't it?

"But it would be amazing if we did finish above them this year because then we could give them six or seven years of stick all in one year."

Villa are without injured striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, captain Stiliyan Petrov and defender Luke Young amongst others, but have won each of the past six meeting between the sides.

That stat fails to startle Gardner, however, and he is in buoyant mood ahead of Sunday's showdown.

"They're a top-class team," he said. "We're not going there thinking we'll walk over them because they've got players missing.

"We know it's going to be a tough game and we're going to get in their faces and make it hard for them. We'll run our socks off for 90 minutes and hopefully get the points."