GARDNER TO MISS START OF NEW SEASON
By Peter O`Rourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The highly-rated 20-year-old ace sustained medial ligament damage to his left knee in the final day of season win over Manchester United and surgeons have told him that he could be out of action for up to three months.
The former Port Vale admitted the injury was a major blow having finally won his chance in the first-team following Sol Campbell's absence since April through injury.
"At first I just thought I'd twisted it or jarred it and even in the dressing room afterwards it was in my head that I'd just twisted but I had the scan on Monday and it was a bit worse than expected," said Gardner on the club's official website.
"The specialist has said it will be a maximum of three months before I start training again to make sure it doesn't go again. There is damage around the ligaments and it's one I have to be careful with.
"I'm devastated. First of all it means I'll have a different summer to what I'd planned. I was looking forward to getting a break, getting away and coming back for next season.
"It's a bit frustrating. The last thing I needed was to get an injury at the end of the season and have to fight my way to fitness again before getting back into the frame.
"This is a setback but I will have to get my head down, work at it and come back."
Meanwhile, there is growing speculation that Manchester United ace Teddy Sheringham is set to make a return to White Hart Lane in the summer.
Sheringham, who left Spurs for United for £3.5 million in the summer of 1997, is out-of-contract at the end of next month and Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle is keen to sign him on a free transfer.
Hoddle admitted last week that he would be interested in signing Sheringham, who he worked with during his time in charge of England.
Sheringham has as yet failed to sign a new one-year deal, which has been offered to him at Old Trafford, and his future has been thrown into doubt by the arrival of Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The double Player of the year award winner is unsure of his place in United's first team next season and he may move for first team football.
The 35-year-old is also thought to be keen to return to the London area to be closer to his 13-year- old son, Charlie.