NEWPORT County AFC midfielder Ben Tozer has revealed that he sought treatment for anxiety attacks after being ostracised by Graham Westley last season.

Tozer was a key part of the County team after moving to Rodney Parade from Yeovil Town in the summer of 2016.

Westley described Tozer as “a Championship player” when he replaced Warren Feeney in October 2016 but he abruptly dumped the former Newcastle United man in January last year.

Plymouth–born Tozer explained to The Sun how Westley, who was sacked in March 2017, called him into his office just over 12 months ago.

He said: “It was a surreal situation. Westley had something going on in his head, thinking there was some sort of conspiracy against him among some of the players.

“In my view he was being paranoid and morale was very low in the camp. Then he pulled me into his office and told me he was putting me on the list.

“I had played 31 games last season but then, from nowhere, I was suddenly out and it left me baffled.

“What happened next made the whole thing worse because then there were stories coming out against me in the local media.”

South Wales Argus:

Westley (above) told the Argus and BBC Wales that Tozer had “turned down the opportunity to play football elsewhere,” adding: “I don’t understand why you’d sooner play no football than any football but that’s an individual choice.”

That was difficult for Tozer to read.

“There I was living in Cardiff with Sophie, my wife now but then my fiancée, away from my family and in a very tough environment,” said the 27-year-old.

“I took it all very hard because anybody would tell you I was always up for it, a good trainer, a hard worker, a team player — and suddenly I was out.

“I’m just glad I listened to Sophie and sought help after a few months of going down mentally, turning up for training and knowing I was basically wasting my time under Westley.”

Tozer opened up about the anguish of being told to stay away by Westley.

“I ended up watching day-time telly for months and I felt like I never wanted to kick a ball in my life again,” he told The Sun.

“I don’t know what was happening to me for a while. But you know you have a problem when your missus tells you that you have to go and see someone.

“I was on a downward spiral to nowhere and for a while the only thing that kept me going was boxing.

“There was a gym on the sea-front at Barry where the boxing champion Lee Selby would sometimes work out.

“I’d be there at 8am every day, battering bags, trying to work out my frustration.

"Then it would be back to day–time telly again trying to cope with anxiety attacks.”

South Wales Argus:

Once current boss Michael Flynn succeeded Westley 11 months ago, Tozer approached him and the club doctor and went into counselling.

“The gaffer and the club doctor were brilliant,” he added.

“Only three people at the club knew what I was going through — them and me. The whole thing was kept secret.

“It was so secret I didn’t want to tell any of my team-mates.

“We were fighting for our lives to stay in League Two.

“I’d like to have taken them into my confidence — and I know now that it is a good thing to talk about these problems, which is why I have decided to tell my story now.

“But at the time I was scared if I did tell them it might upset them and take their minds off that fight to stay in the league.”

“I have a lot of people to thank — Sophie, the club doctor, the manager, my family who knew what was happening.”

South Wales Argus:

Tozer underwent a knee operation in the summer and finally made his County comeback in August.

He has made 31 appearances in midfield and defence this season, the most recent against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley (above) on Wednesday.