Date: 3rd November 2006 at 12:17pm
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Anyone who saw Ricardo Gardner playing for Bolton in his first few games would be amazed to see that he was still at the club. Like Bambi on ice, he spent most of his early matches slipping and falling over, or skying the ball into the stands. The lad was pacy, without a doubt, but his footballing skills were a little raw. He was bought as an attacking midfielder, fresh from Jamaica’s World Cup appearances.

Roll the clock forward 8 years and he has become one of the best left backs in the country. He retains his pace and, though he still has a tendancy to slip at times, his all round game has come on leaps and bounds.

He has played 290 games for the Wanderers and must surely rack up 300 sometime this season. In that time, he’s spent quite a few months on the treatment table. If he had suffered less with injuries, we would be talking about a player with nearer 400 appearances.

Originally, he was played as an attacking midfielder and became one of Big Sam’s original front three – alongside Ricketts and Hansen. Yet, over time, he has been converted into a superb left back. Some fans think he should return to the midfield berth but anyone watching him play up front at the beginning of last season will have been reminded that his crossing and shooting aren’t the greatest.

You can guarantee one thing with Ricky Gardner. As soon as he is fit, he’s going straight back into the first team. This is a lad who is a model professional. Heard any stories of Ricky misbehaving? No. Like a Jamaican Paul Scholes, he just gets on with his job and keeps his head down.

He has also not let his injuries get the better of him. This is a lad who suffered a broken leg against United in January and was back and fit by the end of the season. His ability to be a quick healer has helped him enormously.

The Reebok crowd have a great deal of affection for Gardner. He’s loyal and always give 100%. We can forgive him his many slips and his wayward crossing for the pace and committment he offers the team.

Come on Ricky! Get your fitness back and train hard. There’s a left back position waiting for you and no one else can fill it like you can.

 

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