McLeish said: “Stevie Ireland came into one game and he captivated the fans with his industry. Not only his skill but his industry and I think that had been missing from his game.”
Ireland arrived at Villa Park in 2010 as part of the transfer that took James Milner to Manchester City. Ireland’s time in the Midlands was interrupted in January 2011 when the former Republic of Ireland international moved to Newcastle United on loan after falling out of favour under then-Villas boss Gerard Houllier, but Ireland made only two appearances for the Magpies before returning to Villa at the end of last season.
This season Ireland has made 18 appearances for Villa, scoring once, in the Villans’ 3-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December. With Robbie Keane returning to the LA Galaxy after his loan spell and Darren Bent likely to miss the rest of the season through injury, Ireland will be asked to support Gabriel Agbonlahor in attack, according to the Birmingham Mail.
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