McLeish has been impressed with the Irishman's performance since his recent return to the team which has seen him edge nearer to the form which saw him named 2008-2009 player of the season at his former club Manchester City.
The Glaswegian told The 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."
Villa, who are currently 13th in the Premier League, travel to neighbours Wolves this afternoon.