McLeish plans to keep Ireland
The Villa boss has been impressed with the 25 year-old since his return to regular first-team action in the last couple of months.
And, after four successive starts, Ireland is now showing the kind of form which saw him crowned 2008-2009 player of the season at his former club Manchester City.
McLeish, who has to sell to buy, admits Ireland is starting to win over the Villa fans and he has no plans to offload him.
He told the Daily Mirror: "During the last couple of weeks of good games he has played his training has also been different class.
"The pictures he sees are those only great players can see. I was a half-decent footballer, but I definitely could not see the pictures Ireland sees and many others can't either.
"He deserves to be in the team. He wants to go through brick walls for the fans and the club and that has endeared him.
"It has not happened overnight, we have been chatting to the boy and showing him videos. It has to click with the player eventually.
"We looked at some of the City stuff.
"He is a tremendous footballer and it would be a shame to see that talent no fulfilled."