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Burnley midfielder relieved to pass on captaincy
CHRIS McCann admits he is playing with a smile on his face for the first time in over a year.
The shackles of the responsibility of being captain have been shaken off now that summer signing Jason Shackell has the armband.
And midfielder McCann admits having only himself to worry about is bringing out the best in him.
“Someone said to me I’m back playing with a smile on my face, and that says it all – not that it was a problem being captain, but it feels like a weight has been lifted and I get to concentrate on my own game more than what I probably had been doing,” said the Dubliner.
He skippered the side in his comeback campaign from a series of serious knee injuries stretching back to 2009.
But the long-serving Claret admitted: “It was probably too much, too soon for me.
“After coming back from an injury I was thrust into the spotlight when I probably would have preferred to go a little bit unnoticed, but it was a big opportunity that I couldn’t say no to.
“But I was worrying about other things rather than myself.
“This year I’ve come back more upbeat, happy and I can concentrate on my own game.
“The gaffer wants to give me that freedom to do what I want to do and I think I’ll benefit more from that.
“This season I’ve had the time to think more about my own game and put a lot more concentration into it.
“I think that showed against Bolton – I was a lot more focused on my own game and hopefully I can keep doing that and be a bit more consistent this year.”
But McCann, who only turned 25 in the summer, believes the experience of being the team leader has contributed to him becoming a better player.
“You get to see more from being captain and I’ll benefit from the experience,” he said.
“And maybe I’ll do it again one day. But you need 11 leaders out there, you can’t just have one or two. You need everybody pulling in the right direction.
“In Shacks we have a good captain – he has a strong personality and character, as have a lot of other of the lads in the team.
“We have a lot of experience now in the team so I think we’ll be better for that.”
McCann hopes they are better for a fortnight’s break too, as they look to bounce back from three straight league defeats at home to Peterborough tomorrow.
The Posh have a similar agenda, having failed to pick up a point in their opening four games.
But the Clarets’ only concern is rediscovering the opening day form which led to beating Bolton.
“We started off so well and set the bar that high, and we’ve failed to match that since,” said McCann.
“Middlesbrough was one of those things where they’ve scored two unbelievable goals, but we didn’t hit the heights against Huddersfield and Brighton.
“So it’s a big game against Peterborough, we’re both in similar situations, and we need the three points to kick us back up the league and give us confidence.
“It’s so early in the season that there’s no cause for panic, there’s a long way to go, and we know what this group is capable of achieving.
“But just for the confidence of the team, the town and the fans we need to win and get back up the league to where we should be.
“We’re better than our league position suggests, it’s about being more consistent.”
McCann is particularly keen to lay a marker down at home.
“Last season at Turf, it wasn’t the fortress we wanted it to be, we were soft at home and people came and picked up points against us,” he added.
“At home is where you should pick up most of your points.
“We need to start quickly against Peterborough, get in their faces and not let them settle, because the longer a team is in it, the more resilient they become.
“It’s down to how well we start.
“We’ve been trying to figure out why it hasn’t clicked for us at home, but it’s just a matter of staying calm, keep the ball, keep possession, and we’ll cause teams problems.
“You have to put up with the moans and groans when things aren’t going well, we’re a strong group, and if we play the way we can, results will come.
“We have to relax, get back to basics and go and put on a performance.”