Despite only learning about his talent this season, McLeish reckons he is worthy of his place.
"I didn't really know too much about Nathan before I arrived last summer," he said. "He had been away with the England Under-20 squad at their age-group World Cup.
"I spoke to the England coaches to try to get as much information about him as possible.
"I also spoke to Kevin MacDonald and Gordon Cowans about what level he was at nearer the start of the season and they felt Nathan still had an improvement to make before he could really challenge for a first-team place.
"He's very limpet-like when he's marking and opposition players can't shake him off so he's showed a lot of commitment whenever I've seen him."