Belfast Telegraph

McLeish unfazed by Villa pressure

Alex McLeish insists he is "strong enough" to handle the pressure of being the target of dissenting Aston Villa fans and urged them to throw their support behind his injury-hit team.

Villa supporters vented their anger towards former Birmingham boss McLeish during last week's goalless draw at bottom side Wigan. Now they will face another bottom-three team in Blackburn on Thursday without striker Darren Bent, who will miss the rest of the season with ruptured ankle ligaments.

But McLeish, asked if the disgruntlement of some fans had affected him, said: "It's never stopped me, I've never wavered in my commitment to Aston Villa in terms of helping the club, working with the club, and the course we are taking."

He added: "Of course, I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, that it was easy to handle and there was no pressure whatever. That would be total fabrication.

"But I believe I'm strong enough and I've got the experience to handle it."

McLeish has faith in the players at his disposal to ease the current plight, with Bent, Richard Dunne (collarbone) and Ciaran Clark (knee) all long-term victims.

He said: "Your hands are tied. You need your players and you need your best players.

"These are the things that are out of your control as a manager, when players get traumatic injuries such as the one Darren got last week at Wigan.

"It is a huge blow on the back of losing Richard Dunne for a couple of months, Ciaran Clark for six weeks while Robbie Keane has ended his loan agreement.

"But I still believe we have the quality in this club to steer us clear and get us up the table."

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