By Dan Harrison
Alex McLeish has hailed Robbie Keane's "infectious enthusiasm" as the on-loan striker looks to sign off in style against Wigan on Saturday.
Keane's temporary switch to Villa from LA Galaxy has been a huge success, with the Republic of Ireland skipper scoring three goals as well as turning in a string of top class performances.
And, as the former Tottenham and Liverpool forward prepares to bid farewell, McLeish gave a glowing appraisal of his short spell with the club.
The Villa boss says Keane's attitude, professionalism and sheer quality have had a positive effect on his squad.
"His infectious enthusiasm is there for everyone to see," said McLeish.
"But he has also brought his skills to the club - his ability with the ball, his finishing, and I know he would like to have seen us getting even better results.
"That's the measure of the guy, he's never satisfied, he's a top pro.
"He likes a moan on the training field and I was a bit similar myself.
"He's been very good and I have enjoyed working with him."
McLeish hopes that the successful loan spell will whet Keane's appetite for a possible return next season.
"We've now forged a relationship with Robbie but we understand he has got a couple of years on his contract to go there," he said.
"Maybe he could do us a favour next year again when we can add another player to the squad for not a lot of money, which is good in these times of austerity and when the transfer window in January goes absolutely mental.
"He has got the appetite, he has got the skill and hopefully some of the stuff he has shown on the training ground has rubbed off on some of the younger lads."
Another Irish player, Stephen Ireland has been tipped to come to the fore when Keane returns to the United States.
Boss McLeish reckons Ireland has the attributes to emulate his compatriot.
"There's no reason why Stevie can't come back and emulate what Robbie has done," McLeish added.
"In terms of goals rather than setting people up, Stevie could make a big contribution to the team between now and the end of the season."
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