Date: 23rd January 2017 at 9:17am
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Craig Gardner reckons ‘something special` is happening at Birmingham City. And when he says he ‘didn`t return to the club just to sit in the middle of the Championship`, his belief in Gianfranco Zola`s vision is evident.

Of course, you`ll get the odd conspiracy theorist claiming that Gardner is only saying what the fans want to hear. Perhaps these are the same people who claim that Zola only struck a deal to bring him back to St. Andrews to appease the supporters (how anyone can deny he`s an improvement on what we already had is beyond me) but the fact is, he knows the club, he knows what the fans are about and he brushed off interest from the Premier League to return home, such was his confidence in the set-up.

Four national newspapers awarded Gardner with their man of the match accolade for his performance against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. And while the local media seem to disagree (the Birmingham Mail awarded Gardner six out of ten) there is signs that he is already making a positive impact.

The victims of Gardner`s return come in the shape on Maikel Kieftenbeld and Robert Tesche who have been peripheral figures of late. Kieftenbeld may still have a big part to play but I wouldn`t be at all surprised if Tesche was moved on in the summer.

Currently, Zola`s favoured three appear to be Gardner, David Davis and Stephen Gleeson. With Kieftenbeld the main deputy and the promise of Reece Brown still lurking around the first team picture, Tesche`s time on the pitch will be scant.

 
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