The Scotland right-back joined Villa from Tottenham during the recent transfer window and although he has failed to really make an impact at Villa Park, McLeish is convinced he can get him again playing the way he did when the pair worked together at Rangers.
"We want him to get back up to that top level and I'm sure he can do that here," he told the Birmingham Mail.
"I had Alan as a young player at Rangers, and like every young player they need to develop.
"There were a couple of things in his game that he ironed out at an early age and he broke through and became a consistent performer when Walter Smith came in.
"Having taken charge of the national team I was given the benefit of seeing him again on a regular basis.
"He was building a reputation for his bursting runs up and down the flank.
"He looked every bit an international player when he played against the French and the Italians. He was unstoppable.
"He had a really, really good spell that season and I want him to come and do that here."