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McNeil ready to work hard and win over the Everton fans

The winger has been speaking in his first interview after completing his signing for the Toffees

Everton Unveil New Signing Dwight McNeil Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Everton completed their third signing of the summer transfer window earlier today, announcing the arrival of Dwight McNeil from Burnley.

The young winger joins the club in another quick piece of business, with barely over 24 hours elapsing from when we heard that the Blues were talking to the Clarets for the player until his unveiling. The 22-year-old has been a target for Everton for some time now, with the club having scouted him extensively and entering into early negotiations last summer before a deal could not be brokered.

Statistically McNeil has everything going for him, even though the goals and assists haven’t come for him at a goal-shy Burnley. The durable winger has only missed two league games going back three-and-a-half seasons at the Clarets, and been by far one of the better crossers and dribblers of the ball in the Premier League.

Speaking to evertontv though, McNeil wants to get to the next level.

“It is good to have the stats to back you up, but it is about taking risks and having confidence and, hopefully, that approach pays off this season. Burnley helped me become the player I am today. Now I am at Everton, I want to get to that next level and I will be working every day to improve.

“The manager knows me as a player and told me what he wanted from me if I came here and his aims and goals for the future of the Club. I know within myself… last season, my stats were down in the position I play.

“I feel playing under a manager like Frank Lampard, he will help me get my stats up – that is what I want to do, alongside improving my game. Last season was difficult for the Club, but going into the last bit of the season, you saw from the players and fans, the desire and mentality and togetherness they have.

“They came together and united as one, which I thought played a key part in keeping them up. This season, they want to do better and I want to be part of the team to help them do that.

“When I heard the manager’s plans, they really excited me and appealed to me. I want to work hard and do well for the team and for the fans.”

As a 14-year-old the Rochdale-born McNeil was released by Manchester United’s academy, and immediately set to correcting that blow by becoming a regular at Burnley, and credits that resiliency to his father Matty, also a professional footballer.

“I had the belief and trust of the lads and the coaching staff at Burnley, I was always available to play, but in the games I didn’t play, I wanted to be out there, playing and supporting the team.

“I learn the most from playing the game, you get more out of it. For me, it is about playing as much as I can and helping the lads. Having that experience behind me is good but I am hungry to try to get more appearances under my belt this season and be part of a great squad.

“My dad is a massive influence. Right from the start of my career he’s been with me every step of the way, along with my mum and, recently, my girlfriend. I’m really grateful and thankful for them being behind me and giving me all the time in the world.”

With the beginning of the season just over a week away, McNeil knows he won’t have much time to settle in before the Blues host Chelsea at Goodison Park, but is familiar with a few players from his time in the England youth setup.

“I am very eager to get going. It’s been a fast turnaround. The season begins next weekend and it’s a massive, massive start.

“Hopefully, on Friday, I can be with the lads. I love being around it and learning, being part of it so early to get ready for the first game next week would be amazing. I’m ready to go and really happy to be here.

“Being around other great players helps you out, massively, so it was good to learn from them and now it is about looking to the future because that [England squad] is obviously where every player wants to be.

“I know how good the squad is, how well they did at the Euros and the World Cup and it’s exciting for them going into this year’s World Cup. You never know what could happen in the future but, first and foremost, I want to settle in and enjoy my time here.

“I am looking forward to coming into this group because it is going to be a big season for the Club and the fans.”

McNeil got to watch the Everton supporters rally around the team when his Burnley side were scrapping for relegation survival last season, and commended the fans for the effect they had especially as the Toffees stayed up at the Clarets’ expense.

“It is massive. For players, it gives you that extra bit of confidence. I’ve played at Goodison and it was always a difficult place to go because the fans are behind the lads from the start to the end.

“It is something I want to be part of.”

Everton host Dynamo Kiev in their last pre-season friendly on Friday evening before the start of the season, and Lampard could use the opportunity to give new signings Ruben Vinagre and McNeil a run-out in front of the home fans.