Chris looks forward to knuckling down

CHRIS Coyne has played nearly as many games for his country as he has for his club in recent months!But Colchester United's club skipper is now looking forward to knuckling down and putting all his focus into holding down a regular place in the U's side, and propelling the Essex club up the table.

Colchester soccer main preview (with Coyne pic)

By Carl Marston

CHRIS Coyne has played nearly as many games for his country as he has for his club in recent months!

But Colchester United's club skipper is now looking forward to knuckling down and putting all his focus into holding down a regular place in the U's side, and propelling the Essex club up the table.


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Coyne chalked up his fifth cap for Australia on Wednesday night, in the precious 1-0 win over Bahrain - the Socceroos remain on course to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

But there is now a break from World Cup qualifiers, giving jet-setter Coyne a chance to bed in at the Community Stadium, rather than continually increasing his air-miles.

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The 29-year-old travelled home overnight from Manama, in Bahrain, after Wednesday's World Cup Asian qualifying game (he played for 68 minutes), and reported for training just a few hours later.

It is doubtful whether he will have recovered in time to start at Peterborough United this afternoon, but Coyne himself is ready for the challenge ahead.

“It's about three months before the next World Cup qualifier, so now I've got a chance to cement my position in the team,” revealed Coyne.

“I want to start helping Colchester to climb the table. Playing for your country is a fantastic experience, but as I've said before, it's been detrimental to my form for the club.

“I've tended to play a couple of games, then go away for a couple of games, play once more and then miss three on the trot.

“You need to be playing continually so that it becomes second nature. You need to be in the team week in, week out.

“But the club have been very supportive, and that goes for all three managers that we've had this season!

“The national set-up does everything possible to get you back to your clubs as quickly as possible. That's what happened after the match in Bahrain. I was back on the plane at 1.30 local time, though I only managed three or four hours sleep.

“Of course it was a fantastic result. Bahrain really battered us, but we managed to keep a clean-sheet and then steal a winner in injury-time. That was our first shot on target.

“There are a few Asian Cup qualifiers on the horizon, but the manager has already said that he will pick the home-grown players for these games, because he understands the burden placed on the players who have to travel so far away from their clubs,” added Coyne.

Australia's next World Cup qualifier is against fellow high-fliers Japan in Tokyo on February 11, 2009.

Back home, the U's central defence has not been a settled unit this season. The likes of Coyne, Matt Heath, Paul Reid, Pat Baldwin and John White have all operated as a centre-half.

Reid is still on the road to recovery following his foot injury, so Coyne will be hoping to regain his place in the squad over the coming week - the U's have three games over the next eight days. Specialist full-back White partnered Baldwin in the heart of defence during last weekend's 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Walsall.

Even though the U's are currently just one place above the relegation zone - they are only outside the bottom four because of a superior goal difference - Coyne takes heart from the example of Blackpool, who stormed up the League One table during the second half of the 2006-07 season to clinch promotion.

The Australian continued: “Blackpool only had one or two wins in their first 13 or so games that season, but they came good in the end That's what we must do.

“It's time to climb the table. We have three games over the next week, and the Christmas period is always very busy, so it's possible to pick up about a third of the points that you need to get promoted during this period.

“To do that, we must sort out our home form. The stats don't lie. We thought at first that it was an initial bedding in period, and we should have pushed on after the Carlisle result (5-0 win). I reckon we need a few ugly 1-0 wins!” concluded Coyne.

In addition to Reid, striker Steven Gillespie (hamstring) and left-back Matt Lockwood (knee) remain long-term casualties.

But new recruit Jermaine Easter, signed on loan from Plymouth Argyle on Thursday evening, will make his U's debut. He is likely to start alongside either Clive Platt or Scott Vernon.

Squads

PETERBOROUGH UNITED: Lewis, Martin, Morgan, Zakuani, Williams, Torres, Lee, Keates, Boyd, Mclean, Mackail-Smith, Crofts, Coutts, Batt, Westwood, McKeown, Green.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken or Cousins, White, Baldwin, Heath, Hills, Yeates, Izzet, Hammond, Jackson, Easter, Platt, Perkins, Ifil, Vernon, Wasiu, Coyne, Wordsworth.

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