McLEISH HAILS IRELAND FORM

  • Last Updated: March 13 2012, 10:39 GMT

Alex McLeish has hailed Stephen Ireland's form over the past few weeks after recognising the importance of working on the mental state of all his Aston Villa players.

Stephen Ireland: Praised by Alex McLeish

Ireland was regarded as one of the Premier League's finest performers at one stage during his time with Manchester City, but has rarely shown that sort of form since joining Villa in 2010.

He appeared to react angrily towards McLeish during the recent match against Newcastle, before being substituted at half-time.

However, the incident was later played down and Ireland has since produced a series of impressive displays to remind everyone of his talent.

McLeish hopes the midfielder will now become more consistent, although he admits it is vital for everyone in the squad to keep a positive mindset.

"Ireland has been a revelation in the last few weeks," said the Scot.

"From what I've seen the last couple of weeks, I'm thinking Stevie is starting to look like the player he was at Man City. There is a player in there alright.

"Not just Stevie, it is mind games for everyone. It is a psychological world that we live in especially with footballers.

"Sir Alex Ferguson told me that 10 years ago, when I went to see him at United. I said, 'Could you do things the same way as you did with us at Aberdeen?' and he said: 'No chance, you need to be a psychologist now' and he's right."

McLeish has been pleased with the defensive side of Ireland's game as well as his attacking play, having held talks with the player about working hard for the team.

"I had a chat with him after Newcastle," added the Villa boss. "Now with Stevie in form like that, he can play anywhere.

"You see the slide tackles, dispossessing people. I thought he was really good on one to ones when he didn't have the ball in terms of dispossession.

"He is at a very good moment - and long may that continue."