New Burnley FC signing Mee raring to go
CLARETS new boy Ben Mee admitted he shunned the attentions of former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson to become Eddie Howe’s first signing of the summer.
The Manchester City starlet impressed the Leicester City boss during a 15-game spell on loan with the Foxes last season.
However, the 21-year-old turned down the opportunity to return to the King Power Stadium before the Clarets eventually acquired the defender’s services on a season-long loan, despite a long list of admirers.
“The manager was really enthusiastic about me coming here and he wanted to play me in the team, and that really sold it to me,” said Mee.
“Going back to Leicester and seeing the signings they’d been making, they just didn’t seem as enthusiastic as bringing me in as Burnley did. There was quite a few teams interested. I spoke to one or two managers wanting to bring me to their clubs but I spoke to Burnley and I wanted to come here.”
Mee didn’t make Roberto Mancini’s squad for City’s tour of North America, where they competed in the glittering Herbalife World Football Challenge.
But he’s relishing the chance to get some playing time with the Clarets, starting tonight in the first game of the South West tour against Bristol Rovers.
“I’ve had one day in on Friday then all the lads had the weekend off but the first day was enjoyable,” said Mee.
“They all welcomed me really well. I started back at City on July 4th, I haven’t played any games yet but I’ve been doing a lot of training.
“I’m ready for my first game now. I’m feeling really good. I’ve done a lot of training over the summer and kept myself fit so I’ve felt good coming back. Now will hopefully be a good few days to get to know the lads. It’s good timing.”
Mee has endured a tentative spell at Eastlands since graduating from the Academy ranks.
Despite captaining City’s side to FA Youth Cup win over Chelsea in 2008, scoring a 23rd-minute equaliser in the 3-1 second-leg win, and imposing himself on the senior set-up after making a first-team debut in the Carling Cup last season, his opportunities have been limited.
He said: “It’s hard to be optimistic at City and it’s been a bit frustrating for me.
“I’ve been on three pre-season tours, a couple when Mark Hughes was there, and I played and did well in most of my pre-season games.
“But all of a sudden you’re back playing reserve-team football, so it’s difficult.
“You can’t do anything about it. There’s a lot going on all the time around there and there’s a lot of changes so it’s a bit of a strange place to be around.
“It was nice to get out on loan and actually be involved in a first team and I think I benefited a lot from that.”
“I got about 15 games in last season and did well, so this year is a big season and hopefully I can do well.
“I just need to kick on. I’ll have one year left at City when I go back, so it’s basically up to them what they want to do. If I do well here maybe I can get myself in the shop window.”
Mee and team-mate John Guidetti, who made five appearances for the Clarets while on loan last season, scoring in the 2-1 victory against Barnsley on Boxing Day, also helped his decision to come to Turf Moor.
“We spoke a bit,” Mee said. “John said it’s a friendly club and he settled in pretty quick here, but then he shot off to America with the first team and I was left to make a decision.”
As for the coming season, Mee said: “I want to push for promotion with Burnley.
“The team’s good enough I think, we’ve got a really good manager and some really good players. I think top six would be brilliant for us.
“I just want to do the best I can do and see what comes at the end of the season.”
Mee, who featured in Leicester’s 4-0 win against the Clarets in April, is also hoping to boost his international aspirations after being left out of Stuart Pearce’s squad for the European 2011 Under-21 Championship finals in Denmark due to injury.
He said: “I have had a couple of games, and I was in the original 40-man squad.
“But I had a niggling injury so I think they were a bit apprehensive about taking me. But I enjoyed the games I played in.”