FORMER Wanderers skipper David Wheater has been told he will spend the rest of the season training with the kids by Oldham Athletic.

The 33-year-old defender, who left the UniBol for Boundary Park in the summer of 2019, has been frozen out of the first team picture since the start of the season.

After releasing a statement that confirmed Wheater and goalkeeper Gary Woods were “no longer a part of the first team,” The Bolton News understands that both players have also been told they will not be allowed to train with Harry Kewell’s squad.

Former Middlesbrough man Wheater played 35 times for the club in League Two last season, scoring four goals, triggering an automatic 12-month extension on his contract.

He was briefly linked with a move back to Bolton in January, when former boss Keith Hill enquired about taking him on a free transfer, only for Oldham owner Abdallah Lemsagam to turn the offer down.

Both players are said to be on amicable terms with new Latics boss Kewell and willing to resume first team duties, if instructed. Neither player is also thought to be subject to any disciplinary action from the club.

But a terse statement posted on Oldham’s official website earlier this afternoon confirmed both players were no longer wanted.

"Oldham Athletic can confirm that players David Wheater and Gary Woods will no longer be a part of the first team squad,” it read.

"Due to matters that neither party is in a position to disclose, the decision has been made to ensure the football club can now focus on the season ahead.

"No further comment will be made by the club at this time."

Wheater and Woods' representatives, Quorum Sports, responded with a statement of their own.

“We feel it important to clarify the situation regarding the above players who we are privileged to represent at Quorum Sports," said CEO Imre Varadi.

“When players sign a contract they are fully committed to honouring that contract with the club and be professional 100 per cent of the time and train and play to the best of their abilities.

“In return they expect the management of the club to also honour the contract, be paid on time and to act with a high standard of professionalism.

“Unfortunately, we believe that Oldham’s management in releasing the club statement is designed to put unfair, undue pressure on two experienced professional players to break a contract which was signed in good faith.”

Wheater recently confirmed he and his family were moving back to the North East after a decade living in Bolton. 

Oldham received warnings from the EFL for the late payment of wages in January, February and March but say they have brought in “enhanced financial planning processes” to avoid future delays, which are now punishable under the league’s regulations.

During lockdown the club also found itself in dispute with several first team players regarding the use of furlough, which also involved the Professional Footballer’s Association.

Oldham currently sit 22nd in the League Two table, having lost their first two fixtures.