BURTON Albion boss Gary Rowett says striker Billy Kee was ready for a new challenge in his career.
The 23-year-old was sold to League One new boys Scunthorpe United for an undisclosed fee yesterday, signing a two-year deal with the Iron.
He dug the Brewers out of a hole on Saturday as he scored twice coming off the bench to beat Dagenham.
But Rowett says the time was right for the fans' favourite to seek pastures new.
"Billy's ready for a new challenge," said the Albion boss. "He's done well for us, but he's got a great opportunity to play higher.
"He was in the last year of his contract and I got the feeling he wasn't going to be happy coming in and out of the side.
"When he heard about the interest, he was keen to pursue it."
Rowett admits the timing was not ideal for the sale just over a week into the new season, but is confident about life after Kee.
"It's not something in an ideal world you would be looking to do," said the manager. "But when a player's keen to further their own ambitions it's very hard to stand in their way.
"He's been an integral part of the team in the last three or four seasons and we've got to accept his wishes. I just sensed this year Billy, in himself, was ready for that new challenge."
As for the Brewers, Rowett is keen to bring in one or two new signings to replace the departed frontman.
However, they may not be like-for-like replacements – with a wide player a possibility.
"We will replace the body lost within the squad," he said. "Whether we move right at this moment I don't know.
"We've got Lucas (Akins), who can play up there and Marcus Harness can play an attacking role too.
"We'll get one or two more bodies in these areas.
"Whether we have a direct replacement, we'll have to see.
"I wouldn't have sold Billy if I felt it would have a devastating effect on the squad.
"We've brought some good players in this summer.
"And as you can see, Billy didn't start the first few games.
"We think we can cope and get stronger at the same time."