The Scot revealed he has taken the 'cruel' decision to bring fit-again keeper Given back in - and drop Guzan. Given has been out for six weeks with a hamstring injury.
McLeish said: "Football is cruel at times but Brad's been magnificent.
"He understood, he didn't like it and he didn't necessarily agree but he's a proper gentleman.
"I communicated with him. I wasn't going to drop it on him and pin the team up five minutes before kick-off, so there's a mutual respect there and I think he's earned that.
"Throughout my managerial career I have made tough decisions. Some even tougher than this."