Alex McLeish has hailed the influence on and off the pitch of veteran midfielder Lee Bowyer in helping Birmingham City reach the 40-point mark and ensure Premier League football for another season.

Bowyer remains Blues' leading scorer with six goals this season and was voted man of the match by fans for his performance in Saturday's 1-0 home success over Wigan which came courtesy of a James McFadden penalty.

But the former England player also makes a telling contribution with his words of advice in the dressing room.

McLeish said: "A couple of weeks ago, I thought Lee was looking tired but, against Wigan, the batteries were recharged again and he was perpetual motion.

"He was sharp to the ball. Sometimes you think 'are his wee legs going a bit' and then he comes back with a performance like that. His performances have still been good but I thought there was a real edge to him in the Wigan game and he gets the crowd going.

"Lee is also an influence off the pitch. He is a good type, the players love him, he is a very encouraging guy for his team-mates.

"He will have a go when it is right but you are listening to a guy who has got authority. When you hear 'Bow' having a go, he is somebody where you stop and think 'wait a minute, this guy is really talking some good sense'.

"You can have a rant and rave at people - and I've seen managers' teeth drop out - but Bowyer does it with authority. When he says something, it means something.

"Him, Barry Ferguson and Stephen Carr, three senior members, have really helped this young team to develop."

McLeish also feels Bowyer has learnt to control his temper and he has seldom been in trouble with officials so far this season. He said: "Lee counts to 10 now. With the red mist, he knows now when to put the brakes on.

"I spoke to him and said 'take it easy in certain moments' and he said 'don't worry gaffer, I'm fine, I'm not a wee boy any more'."

Blues tackle Portsmouth in an FA Cup quarter-final next weekend but McLeish is confident his players will continue to perform at the top level in the Premier League.

He said: "The players here are not the type of players here who will down tools. I don't see that in them. They are determined to win and it's the same in training every day.

"They will carry on and try to get as many points as they can but it is maybe an opportunity as well for me to maybe blood players into the side and give some game play like Michel.

"We don't think 50 points is an unrealistic target and anything after that will be a bonus."