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England’s Russia 2018 base camp is in the middle of nowhere

SunSport's Neil Ashton visited the town of Repino outside Saint Petersburg and found a soulless deserted World Cup base camp

And so it begins.

Still over six months out from the Russia World Cup and you can already tell there may be problems ahead for England’s team next summer.

Gareth Southgate’s side will be based in Repino, a small town outside Saint Petersburg.


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England will be stuck in drab place early in their World Cup campaign in Russia next summer

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Vodka bottles are littered around at Repino, the Russian town that will host England

Repino is closer to Finland than to Moscow, where the final will be held

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Repino is closer to Finland than to Moscow, where the final will be held

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But here’s the problem – there’s literally nothing there and absolutely zero to do outside the hotel.

SunSport’s Neil Ashton has travelled to England’s base camp for next summer, and says there “is simply nothing to do here, with the nearest smattering of shops a few kilometres down the empty, deserted, soulless roads.”

Repino is 45 minutes west of the famous Russian city of Saint Petersburg, near a small beach with the waves from the Gulf of Finland washing up.

England might spend their time focusing on fitness as there is little else to do

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The gym facilities awaiting England next summer look in need of modernising

Ashton continues: “When England’s players open the curtains at the forRestMix Club each morning and look out from their balcony at the pines and spruces, they will not be able to see the wood for the trees.

“This modest hotel, a summer retreat built with wedged-up Russians in mind, will soon cut them down to size.

“It is a nice area for a mountain-bike ride, or somewhere for the kids to run riot in the park overlooking the inappropriately-named ‘Golden Beach’ for an hour or so.

“But preparing for the mother of all football tournaments? Hmmm.”

Even the interior looks soulless at the World Cup base

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Even the sporting interior looks soulless at the World Cup base

Outside the hotel England will find there is little on offer

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Outside the hotel England will find there is little on offer in Repino

Gareth Southgate’s squad will train 15 minutes down the road in Zelenogorsk, at a new stadium that is yet to be finished.

The training centre is apparently in a decent location, with work going on around the clock to make sure the playing surfaces are immaculate.

The forREstMix hotel is being spruced up - in time for England

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The forRestMix hotel is being spruced up – in time for England next summer

The local scenery will not be much for the Three Lions to get excited about next summer

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The local scenery will not be much for the Three Lions to get excited about

The hotel interior for Gareth Southgate and his squad is pretty spartan

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The hotel interior for Gareth Southgate and his squad is pretty spartan

The good news for England’s players is that there is a hairdressing salon on site, with the stylist explaining that a cut and blow dry will only take “half an hour”.

Great news for the players, bad news for people like Garth Crooks who hates the idea of players having a fresh trim.

Work is under way at the training centre - but in its early stages

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Work is under way at the training centre – but still looks in its early stages

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Of course, the World Cup is an intense tournament, and the players may enjoy having a remote spot for their downtime.

It will of course bring to mind the sleepy desert town of Rustenberg in the 2010 World Cup, where Fabio Capello’s side endured a painful few weeks.

But while the hotel itself will allow the players some freedom, on the outside of their camp a desolate ghost town awaits.