Bibi Gardner back in action – at Preston

March 9th, 2011

RICARDO Gardner

RICARDO Gardner made a surprise playing return in the Championship last night after signing for Preston North End on loan.

The Jamaica international lined up against Leeds United just hours after reuniting with former Wanderers assistant Phil Brown at Deepdale.

Gardner – who is just one game short of 400 appearances for the Whites – battled back from a long term knee injury to take part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Norwegian club Molde at Euxton last week.

He had been due to step up his recovery for Wanderers’ reserves against Chelsea at Leyland last night, but was snapped up at the last minute by Brown, who has been searching for an attacking edge to guide his side away from the relegation zone.

The details of the link-up were kept a closely-guarded secret until three hours before kick off, and Gardner went on to play 85 minutes of North End’s 2-1 home defeat.

Owen Coyle reckons Gardner was keen to take on the challenge, and hopes he will return to the club fully fit when his loan contract expires in April.

“Ricardo has worked really hard to recover from his injury and get himself back up to speed, and Preston present an opportunity for him to sharpen up his match fitness,” he said.

“Ricardo will link-up again with Phil Brown, who knows him well from his time here as assistant manager.”

The 32-year-old has played just one competitive game for Wanderers this season, against Southampton in the Carling Cup back in September.

Gardner is out of contract in the summer but has spent 13 years at the Reebok after arriving for £1million from Harbour View shortly after the 1998 World Cup.

The midfielder is also believed to have held talks with the club over a testimonial.

Source:The Bolton News

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