Boss sad to see defender go

O'Neill 'sorry' as Gardner transfer looms

January 18, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Martin O'Neill will be "sorry'' to see Craig Gardner leave Aston Villa but accepts the midfielder wants regular first-team football.

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Stiliyan Petrov
GettyImagesStiliyan Petrov tussles with Radoslav Kovac.

Gardner looks poised to complete a move to Birmingham if the two clubs can agree on a fee after the initial offer for the player was rejected.

The England Under-21 international has had only a bit-part role to play at Villa this season.

Wolves have also inquired about Gardner but Birmingham are the only club to have so far made a definite bid.

"I know Craig wants to play," O'Neill told Press Association Sport. "In an ideal world, I would love to keep him. He is as genuine as they come. There are some players who have left in my time here who haven't made a most incredible contribution.

"But I would be sorry to see Craig go but accept the fact if two clubs agree a fee, that he would probably would go. Birmingham have made a bid and, as it stands, it hasn't been accepted. There have been other enquiries but, as we speak, those other clubs haven't made a bid.''

Gardner could become Birmingham's second January signing, following Sporting Gijon midfielder Michel to St Andrew's. He would link up with two former Villa team-mates, defender Liam Ridgewell and veteran striker Kevin Phillips.