Shay Given has urged new Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish to give Stephen Ireland a chance to prove himself at Villa Park.
Given arrived at Villa soon after McLeish but played with Ireland at Manchester City and believes the attacking midfielder can have a big impact at the club.
"When I joined Manchester City Stephen Ireland was the first name on the sheet," Given told the Birmingham Mail. "He's a fantastic player, and one of the top midfielders in the country when he is on song. Hopefully myself and the new manager can get the best out of him.
"It's like a new signing because for whatever reason he didn't feature at all last season. It has got to come from him as well, but the player that I've seen at Man City and that I've seen again in training at Villa is a top midfielder.
"You read different things about him, but all I can talk about is his football and he's a fantastic footballer. If we can get the best out of him we have a real top player on our hands.
"At Man City he was one of the best trainers, he puts a real shift in when he's working. In the ProZone stats he was miles ahead of everyone in the distance covered and things like that, and he puts a shift in on matchday as well. I don't know what the problem was last season.
"When Villa signed him I thought they'd got a top player, and hopefully we will see that this season."
Ireland could be joined in midfield by Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia, who is currently in discussions over a move to the Villans.