O'Neill keen to reward Gardner

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Martin O'Neill has hailed the potential of Craig Gardner, as Aston Villa bid to secure the future of the young midfielder.

Gardner has played an impressive role in Villa's recent revival and O'Neill has high hopes for the 20-year-old.

And, despite having only signed a new three-year contract last summer, Gardner looks set to be rewarded again for his efforts.

"I obviously want Craig to stay at the football club. He has taken his chance very, very well indeed," O'Neill told Sky Sports News.

"He's got a lot of potential, there's no question about that.

"He first got in to the side, then was injured and was out for a fairly lengthy period of time.

"He's a very strong player and next season you'll see the very best of him."

O'Neill is keen to secure Villa's long-term future and hopes Gardner will follow in the footsteps of fellow young gun Gabriel Agbonlahor in penning a new deal.

"I think that if he were to play x number of games in the first team it will trigger something off in his present contract," added O'Neill.

"Regardless of that though, I'd be looking to secure him here, like we did with Gabby."

Meanwhile, Villa defender Olof Mellberg has expressed his desire to remain at the club.

Mellberg has been in talks over extending a contract which has just 12 months left to run and, while he admits there is no news to report, the Swede is positive about the future.

"Are there any developments on my contract? Not really. We have talked a little bit but we will see what happens over the next few weeks," said Mellberg.

"The manager has expressed he would like me to stay at the club for longer than a year and I have expressed I am happy at the club."