Alexander Hleb haunted by Barcelona ghosts - McLei
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish believes Alexander Hleb is still bearing the scars of his Barcelona misery.
Hleb has failed to find his best form since leaving Arsenal for Barca in 2008 and, after a loan spell with Stuttgart last season, he has now returned to the Premier League to try to revive his career.
However, he has been reduced to a bit-part role so far during his loan at Birmingham and, ahead of his side's meeting with Arsenal, McLeish has acknowledged that Hleb is still suffering psychologically.
"He took a bit of a beating mentally with the Barcelona experience and he's only human after all, so he'll have emotions as well," he said.
"But we have worked hard with him to try to get him to a level where he is at the top fitness levels because we know what he can bring on the pitch.
"I never spoke to him about it but I think Alex himself said that he's got to rebuild his confidence. We just automatically think that these players can just walk out onto the pitch, but if it was that easy we would sign Zidane at the moment.
"Earlier in the season when I left him out for a couple of games, he thought he should be playing in the team, but he wasn't fully fit and you risk losing him for longer then.
"Plus he risks his reputation as a top quality player. We had to get him to a level of sharpness and fitness that allows him to perform.
"He's just a guy with two legs like you and me. We need to work together and build up people's confidence and trust."