Gardner playing for future

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is yet to make a decision on Gary Gardner's expiring contract, but admits he is playing for his future.

The 21-year-old academy graduate has been dogged by injury troubles in recent times, severely restricting his involvement at first-team level.

He is, however, back to full fitness and working on his match sharpness in the U21 ranks.

Gardner, the younger brother of Sunderland midfielder Craig, will now be hoping that he gets an opportunity to shine on the Premier League stage before the season is out.

He needs such a window to open, with his current deal due to expire in the summer.

Lambert admits he needs to see the youngster steer clear of the treatment table and force his way into senior contention before fresh terms can be considered.

He said in the Birmingham Mail: "He's trained the last few weeks now and he was on the bench at Liverpool.

"He's doing all right. It's hard for him to get in the side at the minute and he knows that himself, but he needs games that's for sure.

"He's out of contract in the summer and he's in the same boat as a few of the others.

"There's too many games to play to worry about that yet - it will be resolved in due course."