Mee a 'more rounded professional' - Dyche

Ben Mee
Ben Mee
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Former Manchester City youth team skipper Ben Mee returns to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow as a "more rounded professional" according to Sean Dyche.

The 27-year-old led City to FA Youth Cup success in 2008, alongside Kieran Trippier, didn't graduate to the first team at his boyhood club, but joined the Clarets in the summer of 2011, and made his 200th appearance on New Year's Eve in the 4-1 win over Sunderland.

Two seasons ago, in his first taste of Premier League football, Mee was predominantly used at left back, bar the 3-3 draw at Newcastle on New Year's Day, after injury to Jason Shackell and Kevin Long.

But after moving inside just over a year ago, Mee has gone on to make the position his own at Burnley, and he has taken the step up in his stride.

Boss Dyche said: "He's going along nicely. He's enjoying playing centre half, deep down I've always known he was a centre half, but he was doing such a solid job at left back, more or less since I got here.

"He had one spell two years ago when he came out and went back in, and finished the Premier League season very strong, at left back.

"We made a decision last year to change it, and he's never looked back.

"He's done a good job.

"I think he's adapted well, and it's tough, you're often marking the best players or one of, and that's a challenger in itself."

Mee stepped in as captain in Tom Heaton's absence recently, including the 2-1 home defeat against City, and Dyche feels his leadership qualities are coming to the fore whether he has the armband or not: "He's a quiet leader, he's not overly forceful with it, its the way he goes about his business on a daily basis and his performances, and there's an assured manner about him.

"That's definitely something that he's matured with, right in front of your eyes, he's become a more rounded professional and taken that on to performances as well."

Centre back partner Michael Keane, who came through the ranks across Manchester with United, is also leading by example: "There's been an obvious progression with him as well. Some of that is down to natural maturation, time, mental and physical, and some is down to the players around him and the staff and what we add to their journeys and both are on very good journeys.

"Kevin Long and Tarky just behind them as well, they're very good players, and it's hard for them at the moment because the two lads have done very well.

"But I think they are developing very strong careers for Burnley themselves. You don't see that because you haven't seen that on the pitch."

Tarkowski signed from Brentford 12 months ago for £3m, but has started only two games, and Dyche added: "Tarky was a realist when he got here, we were going very well when he came here and he wanted the bigger picture challenge, not just the immediate challenge - he signed a contract for a number of years, building into a career at Burnley Football Club, and that's how you have to look at it, while not physically playing.

"But they're terrific professionals and we've got a great group here, very strong professionals who understand their challenge and the challenge."