Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

McLeish keeps counsel over Ireland

Stephen Ireland

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish wants Stephen Ireland to start generating headlines on the field rather than off it.

The midfielder has yet to produce his best form since moving from Manchester City 18 months ago, and courted negative headlines this week when his girlfriend posted a picture of him on the internet apparently puffing on a hookah pipe.

McLeish will keep his thoughts on the incident private between himself and the player, although he admitted: "You don't want to be bringing attention to yourself".

On the incident, McLeish said: "It is not something I want to be discussing in the newspapers. Was it a shisha pipe or something? I don't know what is in that stuff. For all I know he (Ireland) could have been blowing bubbles into it or something.

"It is not my world, the way the players live nowadays, with the tweeting and posting pictures of themselves and that.

"Any opinion I have on that will be delivered to Stephen rather than discussing it in the newspapers. You don't want to be bringing attention to yourself."

When asked about Ireland's prospects at Villa, McLeish added: "He has been training well and played really well in the first half of the Arsenal game.

"He's got to take that kind of attitude into other games. We know what he can do when he has got the ball. We know he has a got a decent touch. But he showed the other attributes in the Arsenal game with his closing down and harrying of people. He has to do more of that.

"We know that he has not really done himself total justice in a Villa shirt. There is still a chance for him, there is still a chance for everybody."

McLeish continued: "I think every player will be wanting to play and the longer Stephen and others don't play, they will become unsettled. But there will be opportunities over the next two or three games for him to show us what he is really capable of."

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