Alex McLeish challenges Stephen Ireland

McLeish challenges Ireland
© PA Photos
Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has challenged Stephen Ireland to score more goals.

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has challenged Stephen Ireland to solve the club's goalscoring woes this season.

Top scorer Darren Bent is a long-term absentee with ankle trouble, while Robbie Keane returned to Los Angeles Galaxy after a loan spell at the club.

Ireland was deployed behind Gabriel Agbonlahor in the club's 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, and excelled in his new role.

"We said before the game that guys have got to take big responsibility now. Robbie Keane was more of a goalscorer who also linked the midfield to the attack," McLeish told Sky Sports News.

"Stevie's slightly different but we're now challenging Stevie to be as hungry as Robbie to score goals. Stevie was excellent. He was a real thorn in Blackburn's side."

Ireland joined Villa from Manchester City in 2010.

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