CHRIS McCann admits losing the captaincy was “like a weight had been lifted.”
But he believes the experience has made him a better player.
The 25-year-old was installed as skipper last summer after signing a new contract, but, having recovered from a series of knee problems which had kept him out for the best part of two years, he accepts it was “too much, too soon.”
The Dubliner felt his performances suffered as a result, and, ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Peterborough United, he said: “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 can concentrate more on my own game.
“I was worrying about other things rather than myself, and now I can worry about myself, think more about my game, and that showed against Bolton.
“The gaffer wants to give me that freedom and I’ll benefit from that.
“It was probably too much, too soon, but it was too big an opportunity.
“I was thrust into the spotlight when I would rather have gone unnoticed, but I couldn’t say no.
“You get to see more from being captain and I’ll benefit from the experience, but you need 11 leaders out there, and in Shacks (Jason Shackell) we have a good captain and a lot of experience.
“Maybe I’ll do it again one day.”
McCann has opened talks over a new deal at Turf Moor, with his current contract due to expire in the summer.
And he is more than happy to stay put at at a place he sees as his second home, having been here since he was 16:
McCann was linked with moves to Swansea, Norwich, Stoke and Everton before the transfer window closed, and he said: “There was a lot of paper talk, people throwing rumours about, but I’m happy here, I always have been.
“I’m settled here, enjoying my football, and I’ll continue to do it.
“It’s a good place to be, and the gaffer’s ideas for the future look good.”
McCann is just focusing on ending a run of three successive league defeats tomorrow against the Posh, having had the international break to mull things over: “It’s a long two weeks when you’ve come off the back of a loss, and it can be a help or a hindrance.
“On one hand you can analyse what’s gone wrong, and rectify your mistakes on the training ground, but on the other hand you just want to get back out on the pitch, put everything right and get the three points, get rid of the demons.
“Everyone’s up for it, so this break has definitely been a help. Defeat leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, and we’d like to make sure Peterborough go home still with no points.
“We don’t want to be the first team they take points off.”
Burnley have only eight home wins on 27 games, where they are usually so strong, and McCann wants to get back to more solid form at Turf Moor: “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.
“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 here, 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.”
The first game of the season brought a terrific win over fancied Bolton, and that is the performance they have to emulate: “We started off so well and set the bar that high, and we’ve failed to match that since.
“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.
“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 - which was the story of last season. We don’t want to follow those footsteps.”