EAT, sleep, play, repeat – such is the mechanical way of life of Wanderers loanee Zack Elbouzedi right now.

But while many of us are struggling with a constrictive third lockdown, the 22-year-old Dubliner is positively enjoying life without distraction from the game.

Since leaving the youth ranks of Premier League West Bromwich Albion three-and-a-half years ago, Elbouzedi has only once found the regular football he craves.

A spell in Scotland was wrecked by injury but a goal-laden return to Ireland with Waterford proved a move which would push his career to another level, and ultimately lead to a deal with Lincoln City last January. Since then, however, fierce competition in the Imps attacking ranks coupled with a global pandemic gave the versatile winger another career decision to make.

“When it boiled down to it I wasn’t getting enough games at Lincoln, and they knew that, so we looked at what was available,” he told The Bolton News.

“I spoke to Jez George (Lincoln’s director of football) and he agreed at my age I can’t be sat waiting for a few minutes here and there.

“I think when I have played for Lincoln I have played well but I appreciate there are flying and that there are some really good attacking players ahead of me at the moment. I can live with that.

“But I am here at Bolton knowing nothing is off the table for next season now. I am here to play games and show what I can do.”

The Bolton News:

Elbouzedi, who has represented Ireland at every level from Under-15s to Under-21s, departed Sincil Bank with a goal against Accrington Stanley in the Papa John’s Trophy last week and was thrown immediately into action by Ian Evatt for Bolton’s home game against Cheltenham.

“Last week was a bit hectic, coming in, training for one session,” he said. “Being honest my performance wasn’t that good, I’ll admit that, but I definitely think it will get better quickly.

“I’ve had a great day in training today, feeling good, so hopefully it won’t be long before I am scoring goals and creating chances.

“You look at the league table and then go on to the training ground and see the quality of players and it doesn’t really marry up.

“I thought on Saturday some of the football was outstanding. They (Cheltenham) were high up in the league but we should have been three or four up.

“That first half was a big positive and I think the reaction to going a goal behind shows there’s a good character about the squad.”

The Irishman’s eagerness to play stems from a frustratingly staccato career, which began when he took the plunge to leave West Brom as a teenager for Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

“I knew I was going to struggle to break through (at West Brom) because they were Premier League at the time and there were obviously some great players in my way. But going up to Scotland... It was a mad story,” he said.

“I literally signed on the Friday and got injured on the Saturday, and that was me done for six months.

“I injured my knee and had to have keyhole surgery. And from there I was always playing catch-up and couldn’t get myself back in. It was a shame.”

From Scotland, and an even briefer stay with Elgin, Elbouzedi went back to his homeland with Waterford, where he finally got a chance to shine in senior football.

“It was a great time,” he said of a season in which he scored six goals in 29 games and caught the eye of several scouts from the English game.

“It was all about playing football regularly and making sure I got games and eventually it lead to me coming back over to play for Lincoln last January.

“I was excited about starting, played a few times, but then two months later everything stopped because of Covid.

“When I got back in pre-season I thought I did pretty well but it turned out again to be pretty stop-start, it was frustrating.”

The Bolton News:

Able to play on either flank, Elbouzedi feels Bolton’s style of play will be a benefit as he looks to settle down in another new environment.

“From speaking to the gaffer and from what I have seen in training so far it’s quite possession-based, controlling the game, setting the tone, creating chances, and all of that suits me just fine.

“I know the start of the season hasn’t been what you might expect, so if I can come in and help the team, I am more than happy.

“It’s a busy season and if it’s Saturday-Tuesday every week it doesn’t bother me because I have spent enough time sitting and waiting to play.”

The spotlight has shone brightly on footballers and their conduct in the recent lockdown, with the game continuing regardless as the rest of the country slows to a crawl.

Holed up in the Bolton Whites Hotel for now, Elbouzedi is content to save his energy for when he needs it on the pitch.

“It isn’t too bad for me,” he said. “I keep myself to myself. I’m not really the type to be going out on nights out. I prefer to just concentrate on the football if I can, so the lockdown probably hasn’t affected me as badly as some.

“Not being able to go out and eat is a bit annoying, I suppose, but they look after us really well here, so I can’t complain too much.

“And I’d gotten quite into my golf at one stage but I can’t play that now, I’ll have to wait to get my clubs out again.

“The local courses will probably appreciate me not taking chunks out of them anyhow.”