By Paul Brown
Alex McLeish has hailed Alan Hutton's "magnificent and determined" attitude on the eve of the Sunderland game.
Hutton has encountered a lot of negativity this week following a tackle on Shane Long in the derby game.
But McLeish jumped to his defence and hailed his temperament ahead of the Black Cats encounter, with the full-back excelling in training after recovering from a facal wound picked up against the Baggies.
He said: "He was probably a bit down at the start of the week but his attitude in training has been magnificent.
"The way he trained and his attitude in training was spot on. He looked like a guy who was asking to be selected. I was looking at a determined guy that was saying 'Pick me, I'm OK.'
"It's as bright as I've seen him since coming to the club.
"I don't for one second believe that Alan would go in for a tackle maliciously and look to injure someone.
"The unfortunate thing is Shane was hurt and we are sorry about the outcome of the challenge.
"But I don't think Alan was malicious in it at all. Some of the tackles you have to go and win.
"You see them and when no one gets hurt from them they get brushed under the carpet.
"Alan had to stretch for the ball more than Shane did. Unfortunately you can't all of a sudden reverse the momentum of your body and not make some sort of collision.
"I think the two shins hit together. That caused the injury to Shane.
"Alan is not malicious. He's not that type of boy.
"He was in a leg break himself. He was involved in a tackle with Garry Hay from Kilmarnock when I was at Rangers.
"There were two players sliding in and Alan got a broken leg out of it.
"It shows he's still got courage in going for these tackles. I'd rather he wasn't pulling out of them because that's when you can get really hurt."
While McLeish was thrilled to see Hutton in training again, he also admitted it was smiles better with Jermaine Jenas back in the fold, with the midfielder sporting a grin "as wide as the Clyde."
He added: "It was great to see Jermaine back with a spring in his step. The guy had a smile as wide as the Clyde.
"It's been frustrating for us all. It was frustrating for me because I need every bit of help I can get in terms of having every player fit and available and at their top capacity."
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