Nottingham Forest, Burnley and Brighton are looking to secure the services of Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner on a permanent deal in the summer, according to the Nottingham Post.

The 23-year-old has spent this season on-loan at Forest, but the East Midlands club face a battle to keep hold of the player.

The Nottingham Post reports that caretaker boss Paul Williams will recommend that Forest try to sign Gardner, who is under contract at Villa until 2018, after his second successful loan spell at the club.

The midfielder has made 19 league appearances for the Nottingham club since making the loan move in the January transfer window, scoring two and assisting one goal.

Despite spending time at the club, Forest now face tough competition for the player in already-promoted Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion, who are also looking to achieve automatic promotion to the Premier League when they face Middlesbrough this weekend.

Aston Villa’s Premier League relegation has already been confirmed, and the West Midlands side will be playing in the Championship next season after securing just 16 points in 36 games. It is unclear if Villa are planning to keep Gardner as they prepare for life in the Football League.

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Editor. Report on the Football League as a whole with a focus on the Sky Bet Championship. Feature on the FL72 show on Radio Yorkshire, every Tuesday from 6-7pm.

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