Gardner delight at new deal
By Steve Bramley. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Craig Gardner says he is happy to commit his long-term future to Aston Villa.
The 20-year-old, a life-long Villa fan, only signed a new three-year deal last summer, but boss Martin O'Neill wants to reward him with a new contract.
The midfielder underlined his growing promise by scoring his first senior goal in Saturday's 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
"I've read things about maybe being offered a new contract and it's nice that the manager thinks that much of me and hopefully I can prove it out on the pitch for him," said Gardner.
"I'm here under the current contract until 2009 but, if he wants to offer me a new one, I won't say no. I want to stay at Villa as long as I possibly can.
"I initially signed for Villa when I was only 15 and these last five years since then have been the best days of my life.
"I'm a Villa fan through and through, I came through the ranks here and nothing can get better than playing for the club you have always supported."
Gardner broke into the Villa side earlier in the season only for injuries to check his progress, but now he hopes to secure a permanent place in the starting line-up.
"It's good to have a run of first team games. It's like a dream really. Hopefully this time it won't end and I'll keep on playing and playing," he added.
"It would be great to stay in the side and we now want to kick on and cement a place in the top 10 and get as many points as we can from the last few games."