• Last Updated: February 6 2012, 11:02 GMT

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has played down reports of a touchline row with Stephen Ireland, insisting he substituted the midfielder at Newcastle because he was injured.

Ireland: Appeared to row with McLeish

Ireland was taken off at half-time by McLeish at St James' Park on Sunday as Villa crashed to a 2-1 Premier League defeat.

The Irishman appeared to rant angrily at the manager after being blamed for Newcastle's opener.

McLeish felt Ireland should have prevented Danny Guthrie from crossing for Demba Ba to score in the 30th minute.

But the Scottish boss insists the midfielder was substituted because he had picked up an ankle knock.

He said: "I know he spoke back but, at the same time, players don't like to hear the manager screaming at them from the touchline.

"But I kick every ball. I'm passionate and I care. I wouldn't be so petty to take a player off for something like that if he is doing a fantastic job.

"When Guthrie side-stepped him to put the cross in, I thought Stevie should have been making that tackle or at least put a block on the cross.

"But it was clear at half-time that he didn't have the capacity to get close to people. He had an ankle problem."