‘Real eye opener’: PFA’s training camp keeps released players fighting fit

Project provides those without a club an opportunity to stay in shape as they attempt to earn new contracts

When Omar Bogle was released by Newport County at the end of last season, the former Wigan and Cardiff striker could not quite believe what was happening. “It was hard,” he admits. “I spent about two or three weeks trying to get my head around being without a club at the start of pre-season. My missus and my family had to really push me to accept what had happened. Then the PFA [Professional Footballers Association] opportunity came up and I thought I should make the most of it. Now I’m here I don’t regret it at all.”

Bogle, who has racked up almost 150 goals in his career and joined Wigan from Grimsby in 2017 for a fee just shy of £1m, is by no means the only player at the PFA’s pre-season training camp in the plush surroundings of Champneys Springs spa boasting league experience. Among several other familiar faces, there’s also his former Newport teammate Offrande Zanzala and Milan Lalkovic, the Slovakian winger who is a Championship Manager legend and was once described as a star of the future by the Guardian when he was in Chelsea’s academy. “You got that wrong!” he says with a smile.

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