Joe McKee talks about "difficult weeks" under Paul Hartley

Joe McKee and Tommy Robson, who was also slightly out of the picture under Hartley, warm up together. (All photos: Michael Gillen)
Joe McKee and Tommy Robson, who was also slightly out of the picture under Hartley, warm up together. (All photos: Michael Gillen)

Falkirk midfielder Joe McKee has lifted the lid on a “difficult time” after returning to the first team against Connah’s Quay on Saturday.

The 25-year-old hadn’t featured this season, under former Bairns boss Paul Hartley, and revealed that he had agreed to leave the club and had been training alone on weeknights and weekends.

McKee and Robson prepare for Connah's Quay

McKee and Robson prepare for Connah's Quay

“It has been difficult for me. The last six weeks I have been training with the young boys and have been doing a lot of sessions on my own at night times and on Saturday mornings to try and keep fit.”

McKee explained his absence and told the Falkirk Herald that he and Paul Hartley had agreed that he should find another club.

“Last year I had a difficult season and found myself in the team, out the team – more often than not out of the team.

“I wasn’t totally happy with that and I felt I should have more game time.

The 25-year-old played 65 minutes as Falkirk fell to a 1-0 defeat

The 25-year-old played 65 minutes as Falkirk fell to a 1-0 defeat

“At the beginning of pre-season I had a chat with Paul Hartley, when we came back from Wales, and we both decided that it was probably best for me to try and move on.”

McKee assured fans that he was always willing and hoping to play, but that Hartley never considered him for selection for the first squad.

“At no point did I ever say ‘I’m not playing’.

“I always made myself available for selection but he didn’t want to use me and that was evident from the fact I didn’t play any pre-season games either.

“It was difficult for me, the last seven, eight weeks, but it’s all finished with now.”

The training he did alone has helped the ex-Morton man as he played for 65 minutes against Connah’s Quay on Saturday.

“I have been trying to keep myself as fit as I can and I felt OK.

“It will maybe only take me a couple of games to get up to full speed so I’m pleased with that.

“It would have been easy for me to sit and my backside for the last six weeks, and then I would have been struggling. But I feel good, I have been in the gym the last six weeks as well so I don’t feel as if I’m too far away.”

Now, it’s all about looking forward under new manager Ray McKinnon as McKee aims to fight for his number 22 shirt and help Falkirk shoot up the Championship table.

“It is all about trying to get in that team and trying to do as well as I can now,” he explained.

“It’s back to fighting for my number 22 jersey.

“At the beginning of his first week, Ray made it very clear what everybody needs to do and everybody is on the same page.

“The more time we are on the training ground, we will get fitter, we will get stronger and we will get more organised.

“I think there will be positives to come, definitely.”