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The Frenchman complained he wasn't enjoying his football following the defeat to Newcastle, though his boss insists players should enjoy 'the best days of their lives'

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has urged his squad to enjoy their playing careers, claiming they are the best days of their lives.

The Scot, who joined the Villans from Birmingham in the summer, has had his fair share of player troubles to deal with in the past week.

Firstly, he endured a very public altercation with midfielder Stephen Ireland, after the former Manchester City man failed to cut out a cross which lead to Newcastle’s opener at the weekend.

Then, following the game, summer recruit Charles N’Zogbia tweeted: “For the first time in my life I am unhappy playing football,” after he was substituted just past the hour mark in the same game.

However, McLeish has refused to linger on the matter and has pleaded with his players to enjoy their time as footballers.

The 53-year-old told reporters: “I always tell the lads that these are the best days of their lives, better than coaching, better than managing, you can’t beat playing and it goes by in a flash.

“Charles seemed to enjoy scoring his first Villa goal against QPR the other night and he’s got to remember that feeling, because that’s what being a professional footballer is all about.”

Aston Villa host Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday, as they go in search of their first home win since November 5.

McLeish should be able to call upon Mark Albrighton and Gabriel Agbonlahor following injury, and could also have defender James Collins at his disposal after he recovered from a calf injury picked up in the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

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