CAPTAIN Chris McCann believes he will return stronger after a season back in action.
McCann will have started every league game if he is selected tomorrow against Bristol City, and after his injury nightmare over the previous two seasons, that is a massive step in the right direction.
However, the Dubliner is his own biggest critic, and he feels he will return after the summer a more consistent player, and hopefully back to the levels he was at before the start of his knee problems cruelly cut short his first shot at the Premier League.
The ever-present said: “It’s been fantastic, I didn’t imagine I’d play as many games as I have at the start of the season.
“I just hoped I’d come back, have a good season and stay injury free.
“With the Saturday-Tuesday games I thought I’d not feel as good as I had before, but it’s been fine, I’ve been managed well and my knee’s held up really well.
“It’s exceeded my expectations.”
However, he feels there is a lot more to come from him: “It’s been difficult, it’s been up and down, stop-start these last couple of years, and I probably found it hard to get to grips with early on, having not played for so long.
“It’s difficult to just flick a switch and come back and play just like I used to.
“Next year I’ll be better for having played a full season, come back and be more consistent hopefully.
“I’m relatively pleased with most of my performances, but I can be better.
“I’ve needed this season to come back and get strong, and hopefully next year I’ll get back to playing like I used to play.
“I’m looking forward to coming back.”
McCann signed a two-year deal last summer after a close season spent worrying about his future, and while there is always speculation about any player entering the last year of his contract, McCann is only focussing on Burnley: “I’m happy here, I always have been.
“I’ll go away, recharge the batteries and hopefully be better next year for having a season under my belt.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played any football, and I probably knew I needed a season to get that out of my system, the rigours of Saturday-Tuesday.
“I think I’ve done that and hopefully I’ll come back stronger.
“I have a year left and I’m not going to worry about that, I’m going to play my football.
“I did enough worrying last summer for 100 people!
“I’m in good hands here, I’ve always been looked after and it’s up to my agent and the club to discuss anything.”
While he feels he has been inconsistent, so have the team, and he hopes a year together will only benefit the side: “I think if you look at the whole season, we’ve been inconsistent, but we’re disappointed.
“We’ve played against the top teams and done really well against them.
“But we’re mid-table, and you scratch your head and wonder why we aren’t up there with them.
“On the other side, we have a new team, and I think we’ve done well in our first season together.
“It will take time to gel, but I think we’ve come together slowly but surely.
“People seem to forget we’re a new team, and we should be better than what we are, but there were glimpses of what we’re capable of, and now we’ll be better for it next year.”
Burnley have only picked up seven wins in front of their own supporters, compared to 10 away wins, and McCann is eager to change that: “Home form hasn’t been great, our form here has to be our top priority.
“Our away record is crazy, and we’d like to rectify things at home.”