Aston Villa: Steve Bruce makes us 'feel like we can't lose', says Gary Gardner

After scoring at the Tilton End, Gary Gardner's goal celebration took him all the way to the travelling fans in the Railway Stand at St Andrew's
After scoring at the Tilton End, Gary Gardner's goal celebration took him the length of the pitch to the travelling Villa fans in the Railway Stand at St Andrew's

The appointment of Steve Bruce as Aston Villa manager has restored the players' confidence and made them feel they cannot lose, says Gary Gardner, their goalscorer at Birmingham on Sunday.

Villa were pegged back following the midfielder's superb 29th-minute header on Sunday, having to settle for a 1-1 draw with local rivals Blues.

But it stretched improving Villa's unbeaten run under Bruce to four games.

"Every player knows what they're doing now. We feel confident," said Gardner.

"The gaffer's been there and done it - four promotions, and hopefully he can get another one with us. We've worked very hard and it's showing.

"It feels like we can't lose. I know it's funny to say that but it's a good feeling to have. Going into games knowing you've got a better chance of winning than losing is good."

Gardner back in favour under Bruce

After starting the season as first-choice under previous boss Roberto di Matteo, Gardner was largely relegated to the bench until being recalled to the starting line-up for Bruce's second game in charge at Reading.

It resulted in Villa's first away win in 14 months - and Gardner, 24, has now started three games on the trot to move within two of 100 career appearances.

"It took a while to get my chance and I won't let it go easily," he told BBC WM. "I've worked my socks off on the pitch and looked after myself off the pitch and taken it with both hands.

"Scoring at St Andrew's and celebrating in front of the Villa fans was massive for me."

Although Gardner's strike - his first for the club - was cancelled out by David Davis's 71st-minute equaliser, it did little to lessen the excitement for a player whose family, including his elder brother, West Brom midfielder Craig, do not all share his love of the Villa.

"It's a split family," he said. "But I had texts from my Bluenose brothers saying 'Well done, we're proud of you'. I'm just disappointed we didn't go and win.

"I know there's a lot of hatred between the fans but it brings Birmingham together. You watch these games on TV and then from the stand and you know how much it means.

"Growing up as a kid, it was a dream to even play in a derby, never mind score. It's no coincidence that two lads from the city scored the goals. I'm sure David will feel the same. "

Gary Gardner's goal in Sunday's second city derby at St Andrew's was his first for boyhood heroes Villa
Gardner's goal in Sunday's derby at St Andrew's was his first for Villa

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