Aston Villa's Gary Gardner enjoys England opportunity
Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner says he is delighted to have played a major role in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 side over the past week.
Gardner, 19, scored twice after coming off the bench in the 5-0 win over Iceland at Colchester.
"I was buzzing to get on for the last half hour and to score two goals means a lot to me," Gardner told BBC WM.
"We went away to Belgium and played them off the park, but they won 2-1 - at home we'll batter them."
The Birmingham-born teenager is looking to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Craig, who now plays for Sunderland.
He was 19 when he made his Villa first-team debut - an opportunity that has yet to be offered Gary.
He has been catching the eye of manager Alex McLeish with his performances in the NextGen series where Villa's under-19s are rubbing shoulders with the best in Europe.
Next Tuesday they take on Ajax at Villa Park for a place in the knockout stages, and Gardner thinks it is a great experience.
"I think if we win that we'll win the group, and to play in a European quarter-final for young lads - who wouldn't want to play in that?," he noted. "If we can beat Ajax we can hopefully go far.
"That bit of playing in Europe and going away from home - I think it's a massive experience, especially for the young lads here. I think they're coping with it very well."