McLeish hails versatile Heskey
Villa boss claims burly frontman could provide defensive back-up
Last Updated: October 13, 2011 10:10am
Alex McLeish claims Emile Heskey remains an important part of his plans, with the forward capable of operating at centre-half if required.
The former England international has forged a successful career out of causing defenders problems, but he could soon find himself filling a position in Villa's back four.
The 33-year-old has impressed in training while experimenting in a defensive role and McLeish believes he could provide useful back-up in that department.
He said: "We now know what Emile can do. He can play in any position. I could even play him at the back without any fears.
"We played him at centre-back last week (in training) and he was spraying the ball about as if I was watching Franz Beckenbauer."
Alex McLeish Quotes of the week
"We played him at centre-back last week (in training) and he was spraying the ball about as if I was watching Franz Beckenbauer. He is a brilliant all-round player, he understands the game and we need him in the squad."
Heskey may be required in his more natural position this weekend when Villa go to Manchester City.
Nathan Delfouneso picked up a hamstring injury while away with the England U21 side and McLeish admits he is likely to miss the trip to Eastlands.
He said: "Nathan picked up a wee hamstring injury with England and it will probably keep him out of the weekend game.
"We don't think it is too bad, a grade one tear, which usually leads to a quick recovery.
"It is a shame because he is one of the young boys vying for a place and his pace can cause real problems. The Man City game could have been one for him."
Meanwhile, McLeish is hoping Kevin MacDonald will remain part of his backroom team for the foreseeable future, with the highly-rated coach having been strongly linked with the vacant managerial post at Nottingham Forest.
He said: "I'd like to keep Kevin. He is a cherished first team staff member. The knowledge of him and Gordon Cowans has been vital to me settling in at Aston Villa."