Basildon-based Gard also came on off the substitutes bench in the following game, away to Bradford City, before featuring in both of Blues’ first two EFL Trophy fixtures in 2018/19.

Unfortunately, twin medial ligament damage suffered in the match against Colchester United in that competition meant Gard started 2019/20 in the treatment room following surgery as he tries to carve out a professional career with the club that he has played for since joining from Lee Chapel Youth at the age of eight.

Gard, who excels in an attacking role but can play as a box-to-box midfielder, scored 10 goals in 62 youth team appearances for Blues before earning his first professional contract in the summer of 2018.

He signed an extension to that in 2020 having made his comeback from injury with a goal away to Oxford in February of the same year.

However, a cruel twist of fate early into the 20/21 campaign saw Gard suffer another cruciate ligement injury against Portsmouth in an EFL Trophy match.

He returned to action in pre-season of 2021/22 and will be hoping to kick on after his injury troubles.