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Sat, Apr

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Former Trinidad international Marlon Rojas has walked out on Bermuda Hogges mid-season in frustration over his lack of game time, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
Rojas, who has failed to officially notify Hogges of his decision to quit, has been conspicuous by his absence at training in recent weeks and is no longer part of coach Kyle Lightbourne's plans.

The writing was on the wall for Rojas and Hogges' short-lived relationship when he was seen in a heated discussion with Lightbourne and his assistant Jack Castle outside the National Sports Centre (NSC) dressing rooms after last month's home win against Wilmington Hammerheads.

He had spent the entire game on the bench despite impressing during a 20-minute cameo performance two nights earlier, also against Hammerheads.

The ex-Real Salt Lake midfielder managed just one substitute appearance for Hogges and did not make himself available for any of their overseas matches.

Lightbourne insisted he would not be making any attempts to woo Rojas back into the Hogges' fold, but admitted the tough-tackler's experience would be missed during the climax of the USL-D2 campaign.

"It seems Marlon Rojas has taken it upon himself to leave the Hogges," said Lightbourne.

"It's his decision and there's no ill feeling, but obviously we could have done with him for our remaining matches.

"I believe he was unhappy at being left on the bench during our victory over Hammerheads a few weeks ago and we haven't seen him at training. I've not spoken to him as I've never begged for a player to play for me and never will."

Rojas, 29, boasts an impressive football resumé having graced Major League Soccer (MLS) and was a virtual ever-present during the Soca Warriors' history-making 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Agonisingly, he was robbed of a place in the squad for Germany after he lost his contract at Real Salt Lake due to the number of matches he was missing while on international duty.

He almost joined Hogges last season on the recommendation of Somerset Trojans assistant coach Brian Iris, who spotted Rojas while playing for Somerset Eagles in the First Division, but the move broke down.

Rojas is not the first player to part company acrimoniously with Hogges. North Village schemer Jemeiko Jennings decided to play in the Island Soccer League (ISL) instead last season, despite signing a Hogges' contract.

Bottom-of-the-league Hogges face Western Mass Pioneers at the NSC on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Despite his team's poor form Lightbourne still maintains Hogges can reach the play-offs if they start punishing their opponent's mistakes.

"Although we're bottom of the table we haven't written off the play-offs just yet," said Lightbourne, whose side lost to Crystal Palace Baltimore last week.

"We have three home games coming up and a few wins would give the league table a whole different look. But we must start punishing teams the way they're punishing us.

"I thought we matched Crystal Palace Baltimore for much of the game but they punished us for our mistakes – that was the difference."