Smith: Why we said no to Gardner

By Graham Hill

VILLA boss Dean Smith explained why he would not allow on-loan Gary Gardner to play for Blues in Sunday’s derby.

Gardner is currently on loan at St Andrew’s from Villa Park.

And Birmingham boss Garry Monk asked Smith – a former team-mate from their days at Sheffield Wednesday – if Gardner could be allowed to play at St Andrew’s.

But the answer was short and to the point.

Only on rare occasions are loan players allowed to go up against their parent club – and the Second City Derby is not one of them.

Smith said: “The request came through to me, we had an email from Birmingham asking if they could have permission.

“But the terms of contract when it was drawn up were that he couldn’t play.

“There was no reason to change that, I think you put too much of a burden on the player himself, if he were to have a poor game for Blues then he’d have Birmingham fans questioning him.

“But if he scores the winner against Aston Villa, then it’s not very good for him coming back here.

“I think we can take burden away from the player and that’s why it was in the contract.

“I played with Garry when I went up to Sheffield Wednesday in 2003 and he was on loan from Southampton.

“We played alongside each other for around 10 games, we shared the same hotel, so I know him very well.

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