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Josh Magennis describes 'mental torture' of Bolton turmoil before Hull lifeline

 

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Josh Magennis endured a tough time at Bolton

Josh Magennis endured a tough time at Bolton

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Josh Magennis endured a tough time at Bolton

This is the second year in a row Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis has endured a turbulent end to the season.

Last year, Bangor-born Magennis was at cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers, a club who ultimately ventured into administration after numerous false dawns about takeovers and rescue packages.

Players were forced to withdraw their services due to wages being withheld, there was major uncertainty about the future of the club, players were sold at a whim, necessities were unavailable at the training ground, non-playing staff lost jobs and relegation to League One was inevitable due a points deduction.

It was mentally, physically and emotionally challenging and draining for Magennis, who had moved to Bolton from League One Charlton Athletic in the hope of progressing his career in the Championship. But instead, the former Kilmarnock hitman feared for his future in the game, his international prospects and at times, the mental health of his team-mates who were greatly affected.

While troubling, it gave him the ultimate preparation for the current enforced lay-off, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"It was an awful experience, one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy," admits 29 year-old Magennis.

"It was mental torture at times, not knowing if you had a job, if you would be paid, would the club go under and dealing with issues arising from team-mates struggling to cope.

"Obviously this is a different type of mentality now - we are still getting paid for now and we are able to be with our families, although we, like everyone else in the country, are confined to the house. I'm just trying to distract my mind and learn from last year's experience at Bolton."

Former Northern Ireland midfielder Grant McCann offered Magennis salvation from Bolton with a move to Hull City and an opportunity to remain in the Championship.

However despite a promising and optimistic start at the KCOM Stadium, after returning from injury at the turn of the year, Magennis has been unable to stop Hull's slide down the table and their fortunes weren't helped by McCann being forced to sell his top two players in the January transfer window.

Hull have gone from mid-table respectability to just one place above the drop zone when the season was suddenly suspended. If the season eventually returns, Hull will have nine games to save themselves from relegation to League One.

Magennis, capped 50 times by Northern Ireland and scorer of seven international goals, is hoping the enforced break will revitalise and galvanise Hull so they can claim the points needed to remain in the Championship when the season re-starts.

"We were in a massive slump and it was hard to get out of," confesses Magennis, who states a lack of structure and routine during the current suspension is hard for players to deal with.

"You get in that rut where you are not winning, drawing but not winning. We have been pulled into a relegation scrap which is bitterly disappointing because we were flying high at the start of the season. When you are able to take a step back from football and look in, we really needed a break.

"Obviously it has come in such mad circumstances but to get away from the place, reset your mind, can only be a good thing. You can't get wrapped up in it all, the negativity, and it was only after I was home for a few days that I realised it was taking over us all and we needed an escape to re-energise and revitalise.

"We need to look back in an in-depth way at what we could have done better because as you know Championship games come thick and fast - Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday."

Magennis, during the lay-off, has been spending quality time with his family in Chorley, near Bolton, trying to help out with the home schooling for sons Cohen (7) and Jenson (5) but also keeping himself in decent nick by following the instructions of Hull's fitness coach on a special app, which the club have asked all players to download on their computers.

Boss McCann has been checking in but only to the point of making sure the players' mental wellbeing is looked after.

If the season is re-started, most likely to be in June or July, then players are unlikely to have too much of a break between the end of this season and start of the next one. Magennis says, due to his international experience of playing during summer months, he is more than prepared for that and players can't grumble on missing out on family holidays because by playing professional football they are 'living the dream'.

"It doesn't really bother me and because international football is played in the summer, last year in June we faced Estonia and Belarus, I'm now used to it," says Magennis.

"I think I only had a week or two break before I was back in the gym and doing my pre-season stuff.

"We know we will not get a family holiday, but let's be honest we are living the dream. It's not the end of the world for us, we are still going to be able to play football. There are people in terrible conditions, really suffering and my thoughts are with them.

"So if the major negative for football is that instead of getting four weeks off, you only get one, then you have to deal with it. It's not a big deal when you are doing something you love. And the manager will probably give us a bit more time off during the season.

"It's something we will have never experienced before, but we are all in this together and we need to be there for each other."

Just like at Bolton last year, Magennis is confident there will be a positive outcome for him.

Belfast Telegraph