Gary Gardner knows how it feels to start a loan spell with a goal at the Amex.
But the Aston Villa man brought in this week says there is a big difference between his current deal with the Seagulls and time spent on loan elsewhere.
Gardner silenced the Amex just ten minutes into the first senior appearance of his career, made on loan for Coventry City almost three years ago.
He rose to powerfully head home a Cyrus Christie cross in front of the North Stand and cancel out an early Richard Keogh own goal at the other end.
It remains his only senior goal.
Ironically it was Romain Vincelot, the man who sank Gardner’s parent club in the Capital One Cup this week, who scored the winner for the Seagulls that day.
But Gardner has great memories of the Amex. And reason to believe things will be better with the Seagulls.
Unlike his stint at Coventry, in which he played just four games, he has the chance to really get settled and make an impact between now and January.
The process started as a second-half substitute at Swindon in midweek, although he would love a full debut for the Seagulls against Charlton today.
He told The Argus: “In my first loan spell at Coventry I scored the equaliser on my debut, a header.
“It’s a great stadium. Hopefully it’s a lucky one for me.
“I’ve got four months here and hopefully I play a big part.
“I’ve been on loan to Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday but they were both short loans.
“To get the chance to come here for four months and get as many games as I can will be a great step for me.
“I’ve just signed a new deal at Villa but I will always give 100% whatever shirt I put on.”
Although Albion have plenty going for them to appeal to potential new signings, the fact Gardner’s mate Joe Bennett had made a good start at the Amex did them no harm in completing this deal.
He added: “There was a lot of clubs interested. I was weighing up my options and I spoke to Joe and he said it’s a brilliant club.
“As soon as Brighton showed their interest, this was my first club to come to.
“They like to get the ball down and play and they will be pushing to be promoted.”
Gardner described himself as goalscoring midfielder who likes to get about the pitch.
His long-term ambition remains to make a major impact at Villa, the local club he has supported since childhood. But he has been assured by boss Paul Lambert that this loan stint can be a stepping stone to that if all goes well.
The 22-year-old said: “The gaffer has told me to go out on loan and play and enjoy it.
“The main thing is to enjoy it and get some minutes in.
“I’ve played a few games with Villa, I’ve trained with the squad, I’ve been to America with them, I haven’t missed a training session.
“It’s just a case of getting some games and coming back fitter and stronger.
“I’ve got massive respect for the gaffer at Villa and I will listen to him.
“And I’ve got massive respect for the gaffer here for letting me come and play.”
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