'Burnley defender Ben Mee can't do much more to earn an England call-up', admits former team-mate Michael Keane

Burnley's Ben Mee and former Clarets centre back Michael Keane
Burnley's Ben Mee and former Clarets centre back Michael Keane
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Clarets centre back Ben Mee can consider himself extremely unfortunate not to have received an England call up, according to former team mate Michael Keane.

The 26-year-old Everton defender started 98 games with Mee during his time at Turf Moor, and the majority of those were played alongside each other at the heart of Burnley's defence.

Keane, who represented the Three Lions at three different age groups, having represented the Republic of Ireland at Under 17s and Under 19s level due to his ancestry, was selected for England's senior squad for the first time in October 2016.

The former Manchester United man was a replacement for the injured Glen Johnson for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification matches against Malta and Slovenia.

He has gone on to make seven appearances on the international scene, scoring his first goal in March with a header from Ross Barkley's free kick in a 5–1 win away to Montenegro in UEFA Euro 2020 qualification.

"It is hard luck he [Ben Mee] has not had a call-up," said Keane. "He's been brilliant for some years now.

"I don't think he can do much more but if he continues doing what he's been doing then maybe one day he will. When he does he will fully deserve it."

Mee is second in the Premier Division for the number of blocks made this term with 47, fourth for the number of clearances made with 217 and fourth in the rankings for headed clearances with 119.

In all three categories the 29-year-old is a place below central defensive partner James Tarkowski.

That is just one of Mee's competitors at international level, with a plethora of options at Gareth Southgate's disposal in that position.

Keane said: "There is a lot of competition so it is hard. The hardest thing is to get your foot in the door at first.

"He has been unfortunate that he has not been able to do that. I think he will get his chance soon."

Tom Heaton and Tarkowski were fortunate enough to be included in Southgate's last squad selection. And Keane confirmed that the pair are more than worthy of their places in the group, despite being unused substitutes in the previous fixtures.

"Tarky was there last time and Heats," he said. "It gives me another reason to look forward to those trips. Catching up with them.

"They've done very well. Brilliantly. Obviously for the last trip they didn't play but they both trained really well. it is a great environment to be in and try to push yourself.

"It is a great squad of players and helps you to improve. Tarky and Heats earned their places there and they showed it in training."