Updated: FORMER Blackburn Rovers midfielder Michael Potts has turned down overtures from France to join York City.

Potts, 19, has been unveiled as City manager Gary Mills’ latest summer signing having been released by the Premier League club at the end of last season.

He played 14 games and three goals for the reserves as a first-year professional last season at Blackburn having been a member of the under-18 side that reached FA Youth Cup semi-finals during the previous campaign.

About his decision to sign for City, Potts told The Press: “I had the opportunity to go to France but I didn’t want to move away and I feel I am good enough to make it in England. York have given me that opportunity and I am very grateful for that because it’s a beautiful city and a very friendly club.

“I just want to play football now. I don’t want to be sitting in the reserves any more.

“I need to be playing with senior players in competitive games and I want to help York get promoted.”

Before agreeing scholarship terms at Blackburn, Potts spent nine years as a member of Manchester United’s school of excellence, rising through the ranks alongside the likes of Danny Welbeck.

He has also seen England Under-21 skipper Phil Jones, recently transferred to Old Trafford from Rovers, and David Hoilett – former U18 team-mates – make their mark in the top flight.

A pint-sized Potts, however, felt his chances of further progression at Ewood Park were hindered by former manager Sam Allardyce’s preference for direct football.

He said: “I played with a lot of players at Blackburn who broke through to the first team. You could tell Jonesy was going to make it because he was a great player.

“It was very difficult for me because Sam Allardyce never really regarded me as a first-team player. I was never his type but I just kept my head down and kept working hard.”

Potts admitted he benefited from rubbing shoulders with international stars both in training and during reserve fixtures, adding: “The likes of Jason Roberts, David Dunn and Benjani were all very helpful.

“They gave me their thoughts on what I should be doing and the experience of being around the first-team players and seeing how they go about their careers was great. Hopefully, one day, I will get there myself and I certainly know what to do now.”

He added: “It’s an education to see how they look after their bodies with ice baths after exercise and games.”

Labelled as a “tough-tackling” midfielder by Blackburn’s official website, Potts remarked: “Yes – it’s a fair description but I have another side to my game as well.”

The other side is what first caught Mills’ eye with the City chief pointing out that Potts is not a direct replacement for departed midfield enforcer Jonathan Smith.

Mills said: “He’s not made from the same mould as Jonathan Smith. He can be aggressive but people will see that other side to his game.

“He’s a footballer and a player I admire. We’ve done a lot of homework on him and he’s certainly my type of player.

“It’s never easy to drop down from the Premier League but I’ve told him it could be the best thing that could have happened to him because he’s coming to a fantastic club. I believe he will be an exciting addition and will fit in with the way I like to play.

“He’s a fit lad who has a hunger for the game. He knows the standard he can play at and I want to get him back there by helping us to win promotion to League Two.”

Despite still being a teenager, Mills added that Potts has been signed to make an immediate contribution to the first team.

“It wouldn’t matter if he was 16 - I’ve signed him to be in my starting XI,” the City boss stressed.

“He knows that’s going to be down to him and he’s willing to work hard enough to make sure that he’s in the team.

“I’m not signing anybody to be a squad player. They will all be capable of being in my starting line-up.

“Michael’s age is not an issue. I was brought up with that ethos.”

Mills went on to reveal that out-of-contract quintet Levi Mackin, Neil Barrett, Leon Constantine, Liam Darville and Chris Carruthers have now been told they will not be offered new deals at Bootham Crescent this season.

“They all did superbly for me last season and have had to be patient while I try to put together a new squad,” Mills said.

“They are disappointed but have taken the news professionally and I wish them all the best for the future.”