The 25-year-old moved to Villa Park from City in an £8m deal in August 2010, but the former Republic of Ireland international struggled to make an impact and was loaned out to Newcastle United in January 2011.
Ireland has impressed since returning to Villa at the start of this season, building on his match-winning performance in the club’s 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December.
“Ireland has been a revelation in the last few weeks,” McLeish told Villa’s website.
“Robbie Keane came in when Steven got injured and it was hard for him to get back in that position.
“But when you are playing in the form he is playing in, then moving him out to the left is not a hardship because his confidence looks as if it is back and he came in off the side and played extremely well.
“When Steven is 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.
“He is very good at the moment and long may that continue.
“From what I’ve seen the last couple of weeks, and just before Robbie Keane came in, I’m thinking Stevie is starting to look like the player he was at Man City.”
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