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The Irish professional footballers’ association (PFAI) has started its annual training camp for players currently out of contract. According to secretary general Stephen McGuinness, the situation for the players has improved significantly.


The PFAI training camp for out of contract League of Ireland players began last week in the AUL Complex in Dublin under the watch of manager Pat Scully. The former Limerick manager  is hoping to have a squad to compete in the FIFPro Winter Tournament in Norway in January 2013.


Training will take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week up until Christmas. The players will be given a programme over Christmas and return to training and play some games before departing for Oslo on 8 January.


That is, if the PFAI team goes to Oslo. Secretary general Stephen McGuinness has noticed that the Irish clubs are signing and re-signing players at a very early stage in the current close season. Last year, many players had to wait until shortly before the new season began.   


 ‘It's fantastic that we have clubs doing their business a lot earlier’, McGuinness says. ‘This year for some reason, licensing and budget approval doesn't seem to be an issue for clubs. Maybe clubs better understand licensing and what is required budget-wise within those criteria. Let's hope so.’


McGuinness even suggested that the PFAI could have a big problem selecting a squad for the FIFPro Winter Tournament in Oslo, next January. ‘I suppose it's a good thing in a way if we don't have a team because that means everyone's fixed up.’


In previous FIFPro Tournaments, Team PFAI had the Most Valued Player (MVP) of the tournament (Daryl Kavanagh in 2010), and last year Ireland finished runners-up losing out in a penalty shoot-out. Five members of the 2011 team played in this year's FAI cup final.


Irish Player of the Year: Mark Quigley

Mark Quigley was named PFAI/Tissot Player of the Year 2012. The Sligo Rovers forward beat his fellow team-mate Jason McGuinness, Shamrock Rovers' midfielder Ronan Finn and St Patrick's Athletic's Sean O'Connor  for the prestigious award. 


Chris Forrester (St Patrick's Athletic) was named Young Player of the Year, and James McClean (Sunderland) was voted Irish Overseas Player of the Year.