Big Eck eyes Republic benefit

BY foxsports • November 19, 2011

Goalkeeper Given and defender Dunne played a major part in helping Ireland reach the Euro 2012 finals by overcoming Estonia in the two-legged play-off. The pair have enjoyed a new lease of life this season and now McLeish hopes they can "bring a touch of magic" to Villa when they resume action against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Monday night after a 17-day lay-off. The Scot said: "I'm delighted for Shay and Richard. They are two terrific professionals and Ireland have waited a long time to get to a major tournament. "I'm a bit jealous for the sake of my own country. "At the moment we are looking for the Irish lads to bring a touch of the magic to Villa. "I said to the lads to bring some of that spirit and winning feeling back to the club and give it to the rest of the lads. "I said 'sprinkle the magic on them' and there is a feelgood factor from that point of view. "They will have that feeling of mental toughness and invincibility. If that filters throughout our team, then it is going to be great for the rest of the lads." Dunne fell out of favour under McLeish's predecessor, Gerard Houllier, while Given moved from Manchester City in the summer after not being content to remain as number two to Joe Hart. McLeish said: "Certainly their performances have been great. Shay has been a very settling influence in the team and in the squad and Richard's form has been terrific. "Goalkeepers and defenders are probably the most consistent performers in the whole season and they need to be. These two have been part of the reason for the steady start we have made." McLeish will be happy if Spurs boss Harry Redknapp returns to the bench against Villa after undergoing a heart procedure last month. He said: "I'd love to see Harry back in the dugout. He is a great character in the game, a fantastic coach, as has been proven with all the clubs he has been with. "He has turned them all into very good, entertaining football teams and Harry is a guy who is revered in this game, in the Premier League particularly." McLeish is hopeful striker Gabriel Agbonlahor will have recovered from a hamstring strain in time to face Spurs. Agbonlahor suffered the setback when on England duty and was ruled out of the friendlies against Spain and Sweden. McLeish said: "We expect Gabby to train the next couple of days and hopefully he will be okay. We are optimistic about him making it. "It has been a long wait until this game but that has given us time to work on Gabby and one or two other players who are suffering from knocks." Skipper Stiliyan Petrov has recovered from a hamstring injury suffered against Norwich a fortnight ago. But a similar problem means striker Nathan Delfouneso is unlikely to be available.

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