By Paul Bro
Loanees Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry may be different types of strikers but Alex McLeish says they share a common trait - a passion for the beautiful game.
Keane and Henry have both returned to the Barclays Premier League on short-term deals from their parent American clubs LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.
While there have been comparisons made between their journeys back to the top-flight, McLeish sees them as polar opposites in terms of style of play.
But he believes the pair, who look set to square off this weekend, have a real hunger to play and succeed.
He said: "Robbie and Thierry are different styles of player.
"But I know one similarity and that is that they are superb footballers who love the game.
"You can see in training that Robbie loves it and wants to be involved all the time. It's infectious.
"I think it's the individual's character. That's a fundamental.
"Robbie has made it clear he wants to play in this period."
The deal to bring in Keane on a temporary contract was given the thumbs-up this week from Gordon Strachan, who McLeish revealed was a guest at Bodymoor Heath.
Strachan watched training alongside his former international team-mate McLeish and told the gaffer about his own memories of managing Keane at Coventry.
He continued: "I had Gordon in this week for lunch and to observe training. He had Robbie at Coventry and he said Robbie's movement was terrific.
"Gordon said Robbie was making the same kind of movements now that he did when he was 20.
"He said that he was trying to teach that movement to other strikers at Coventry like Darren Huckerby, who did well for him, but it was difficult for them to make the movement that Robbie did.
"And Gordon said he used to ask Robbie 'who taught you that kind of movement?' and Robbie told him it was all done playing in the streets.
"He was laying the ball off and spinning and that kind of stuff. It was all stuff he did as a boy playing street football.
"It is a measure of how much he has made himself a very good footballer."
McLeish also confirmed Villa would not be looking to extend Keane's deal past this current short-term contract.
He added: "His parent club is LA Galaxy and there is an agreement in place.
"We said if Robbie could come and give everyone a boost, get a couple of goals, if he can make a significant difference in the other games, then that would be great.
"Hopefully it inspires everyone else to give tremendous performances and leave us in a good position going into the tail-end of the campaign."
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