Gardner ready to tackle Villa preseason

Aston Villa midfielder Craig Gardner is ready to kickoff preseason training this week.

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He told avfc.co.uk: "I haven't stopped running really. I don't stop and I'm one of those players that can't stop. I get bored so I just go out running to keep myself ticking over.

"I've been watching the football as well, which has been exciting. But there's no substitute for being involved, training and playing games.

"It's nice to have a break but I definitely miss the day to day involvement and I miss the banter with the lads. But we're back this week and then the hard work begins."

Gardner made 23 first team appearances last season and showed his versatility as he played a number of games at right-back.

He added: "I thought overall I had a decent season, apart from the injury at the end. I was out for five or six weeks but it shouldn't have been that long. I got injured playing for England Under-21s and it was a stupid injury.

"But the start of the season went really well and I think I established myself as a Premier League player.

"I think next season is a massive one - not just for me but for Villa. We finished sixth last season and just missed out on an automatic UEFA Cup spot but we've got the Intertoto to play for."

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