Bowyer is invaluable - McLeish
Bowyer netted his sixth goal of the campaign to earn the Blues victory against his former club West Ham at St Andrews. It was the third time in the last four games that the 32-year-old has come up with the only goal in wins against Fulham, Wolves and now the Hammers. City are now unbeaten in seven games, from which they have collected 17 points and moved into eighth spot in the Barclays Premier League. McLeish said: "Lee has exceeded my expectations, and he had been given a new lease of life. He is enjoying himself, and we are getting the rewards on the field. "It is difficult to put a price on what his goals are worth to us. "He looks an absolute bargain now. When we signed him from West Ham, he had had a couple of injuries and was not playing regularly. Things were not right for him. "But what would he be worth now? The goals he has got have been winning goals, and it is difficult to put a price on what they would be worth to us if we manage to stay in the Premier League." McLeish acknowledges that expectation levels will rise if City maintain their current form, but he has trust in his current squad after they kept yet another clean sheet. He said: "The expectation level grows with every performance and result. "The players have got to deal with that, but they are excellent characters. "We lost just sucker goals earlier in the season, but that is part of the learning process. There are some fantastic player characters in my dressing room. "We are building a solid Premier League team here, and starting to play good football, which has been added to the tremendous spirit of the last two years." McLeish admitted: "We had to work hard in the end for the victory. I felt we dominated proceedings and should have put West Ham away. "But they are fighting for points, and threw caution to the wind and I had my heart in my mouth a bit. But I have got a lot of trust in these players." West Ham dropped into the bottom three as a result of Wolves' surprise win at Tottenham, but manager Gianfranco Zola is refusing to go overboard. He said: "I thought we deserved something from the game. The players tried very hard and didn't deserve this result. "But we have to dig even deeper to find a solution, and I think we have the players to do it. It is important not to panic. We are missing important players through injury but I appreciate what these players are giving me and they are trying very hard." Zola was unhappy with the performance of referee Lee Mason, who sent off midfielder Mark Noble for two bookable offences. He said: "I'm not in the mood to speak about the referee. Referees make mistakes, but today there were too many, and some that were easy not to make. We had the right to complain." Zola admitted Bowyer's decisive contribution was a painful experience. He said: "When Lee left in January, he was not playing very much. He was coming back from an injury, needed to play, and that was not possible with us. "I know how capable he is. He's a player who can score goals. It is painful to say that. I have no doubts that he is a good player."