McLeish issues Ireland challenge

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Updated: August 27, 2011

New Villa boss Alex McLeish has urged Stephen Ireland to find the form that made him a “World class” midfielder two seasons ago.

Ireland looked to be on his way out of Villa Park this summer after a forgettable first season at Villa Park which culminated in a 6 month loan spell at Newcastle however the arrival of McLeish have given the former Manchester City midfielder the chance to start afresh.

Although the despite not yet making a league start under the Scot, the Cork man appears to be very much in McLeish’s thoughts with the former Birmingham manager saying “Stephen has a lot to offer. A couple of years ago that guy was verging on world-class stuff (with Manchester City) It’s about him recapturing that kind of form.

“We will try our best. We will keep trying. We’re not about to give up on big investments on Stephen. He’s a very important member of the squad.”

A lack of action in the last two seasons has left Ireland often having to deal with injury and the midfielder is concentrating on building up his physical strength and McLeish continued saying that this is an area that his backroom staff are working on “His conditioning has left him prone to little niggles, hamstrings etc. It’s another task for our sports science team to be working on that side of it in the gym.

“We have the facilities to help the players. They are not wanting for anything on that side of things.”

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