Albion sign Premier League midfielder on loan

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BRIGHTON & Hove Albion have completed the signing of Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner on a long-term loan deal until January 1.

The 22-year-old completed his medical at Albion’s Swindon hotel base late last night, before signing paperwork this morning - and is available for tonight’s Capital One Cup match with Swindon Town.

Albion manager Sami Hyypia said: “Gary is a quality midfielder who we have been aware of for some time. When we knew he was available, we wanted to bring him here as he will give us another quality option in the middle of the park.

“There are areas of the squad where we would like more options, and midfield was one of those areas. We have Dale Stephens out injured, but more importantly, given the considerable demands of the Championship, I want to be able to rotate the squad.

“Gary has had a tough couple of seasons due to injury, but he showed during a spell with Sheffield Wednesday last season that he is over those problems. We hope this loan spell will benefit everyone: Gary, us and Aston Villa.

“He is the type of midfielder who is active and mobile, but very importantly he has real quality on the ball - and is also capable of producing things from set pieces.”

Gardner - who will wear squad number 19 for Albion - graduated through the ranks at Villa Park where he caught the eye with a string of outstanding performances for the club’s under-18s and reserves - and also captained Villa at both levels.

In November, 2011, he joined Coventry City on loan and scored on his Championship debut for the Sky Blues at the Amex, in a 2-1 win for Albion.

After four appearances for the Sky Blues, he was recalled to Villa Park, and promoted to the first-team squad, and made his Premier League debut for Villa against Chelsea on December 31, 2011.

Gardner went on to make 16 first-team appearances for Villa in the second half of that season, but a cruciate injury halted his progress and curtailed him to just two appearances in the following campaign, 2012-13.

Having recovered from injury, he returned to action with Sheffield Wednesday at the end of last season, during a loan spell at Hillsborough.

Birmingham-born Gardner - whose brother Craig plays for Sunderland - has also represented England at every level from under-17 through to under-21.

He also excelled for Villa in the under-21 European competition the NextGen Cup in 2011-12 - scoring a hat-trick against Ajax - and ended the competition as overall top scorer that season.