Alex McLeish wants Aston Villa to be 'street wise'

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish today urged his players to become “more street wise” as he prepares to do without Alan Hutton for the Boxing Day trip to Stoke.

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish today urged his players to become “more street wise” as he prepares to do without Alan Hutton for the Boxing Day trip to Stoke.

Hutton was sent off for two bookable offences against Arsenal on Wednesday and will serve a one-match ban, but McLeish felt the wool had been pulled over the right-back’s eyes which resulted in his dismissal.

The defender was initially booked for squaring up to Arsenal striker Robin van Persie and then shown a second yellow for a needless tackle on Thomas Vermaelen.

McLeish said: "Maybe the Arsenal player lured him into it but I didn’t think he would get conned like that. I thought he was great against Arsenal.

"He was terrific, really great. Although it didn’t cost us the game, it was a shame to see him get sent off after such a good performance.

“Robin van Persie waved at him in the tunnel – they conned him. Alan was conned and he should be experienced enough to just laugh in their face and just walk away.

“Alan’s suspension has been a blow. We have got Carlos Cuellar who can play the full-back position while James Collins can come back in, so that is the way we are going to go.

“Has Alan apologised? Yes. He was disappointed in himself and texted me with an apology.”

McLeish also controversially encouraged his players to be as cute as van Persie in winning questionable free-kicks, but not at the expense of winding up the referee.

The Villa boss said: “I think you’ve got to do what you can for your team. It is being streetwise.

"If you are winding someone up and they get sent off and you have reduced the opposition’s resources and your team wins then you’ve done a good job."

McLeish confirmed that striker Darren Bent should be fit enough for the tip to the Britannia Stadium, along with Stephen Ireland and Collins.

But Emile Heskeyand Chris Herd are likely to ruled out, with Achilles and ankle injuries respectively.