Coyne and Garcia simply old mates

AS A young lad, Colchester United's new recruit, Chris Coyne, used to kick a football around with a fellow Australian by the name of Richard Garcia!The duo used to live just down the road from each other in Perth, Western Australia.

Carl Marston

Colchester main preview

By Carl Marston

AS A young lad, Colchester United's new recruit, Chris Coyne, used to kick a football around with a fellow Australian by the name of Richard Garcia!

The duo used to live just down the road from each other in Perth, Western Australia. Little did they know that they would both end up playing for the U's during their professional career.

And if Coyne enjoys the same impact as his childhood friend Garcia achieved during his successful stint at Layer Road, then United will have signed a real gem.

Most Read

Central defender Coyne is set to make his debut for the U's at promotion-chasing Bristol City this afternoon, having signed from Luton Town for a club record fee of £350,000 on Thursday.

Similarly, fellow new recruit Phil Ifil, snapped up from Tottenham on the same morning, is also poised to make his United debut at Ashton Gate.

Garcia is now plying his trade at Hull City, after three productive years at Layer Road, and it will be interesting to see how his old mate Coyne fares in the Championship.

“I grew up with the Garcias, so it's a small world,” confirmed Coyne on the eve of today's big test in Bristol.

“I used to play with Richard and his brother Michael as a young lad growing up in Australia. The Garcias only lived five minutes down the road.

“In fact, my Dad (John) used to coach Richard!” added Coyne.

Both Coyne and Garcia began their professional career in England with West Ham. A product of the Hammers Academy, attacker Garcia eventually signed for the U's in 2004.

The Perth-born 26-year-old went on to play 99 senior games, and was a key member of the U's promotion-winning team of 2005-06, as well as scoring seven goals during the club's first season in the Championship.

Coyne, meanwhile, joined Upton Park after a season at Perth SC in 1996. The 29-year-old made just one appearance for West Ham before moves to Dundee and then Luton (in 2001).

Former Hatters skipper Coyne is acutely aware of the U's bad habit of conceding too many goals this term. Geraint Williams' men have only kept one clean-sheet all campaign, at Preston (3-0 win) on August 25. That means 24 matches without a clean-sheet.

“I can't really comment on what's happened before, but it's obvious that we haven't kept enough clean-sheets,” continued Coyne.

“The main problem seems to be that. Looking at the strikers, we certainly have the firepower to scores lots of goals, but in the end it's clean-sheets that win matches.

“I'd like to think that I'll be able to help rectify the problems at the back. It's certainly a great move for me, with Colchester being in the Championship, and I'm confident that's where we will stay.

“There's a good blend of young and experienced players at the club, and you can't ask to have anyone more experienced than Teddy Sheringham!” added Coyne.

Manager Williams has some welcome selection problems ahead of today's game. Coyne looks set to start in central defence, having been a regular at the back for Luton during the first half of the season.

Ifil will also be pushing to make his debut from the start, either at right-back or left-back. The 21-year-old is fresh from a three-month loan spell at Southampton.

Pat Baldwin is struggling with a knee injury, so if he fails a fitness test, it seems likely that Coyne will partner Celtic loanee Adam Virgo at the heart of defence.

At the other end of the pitch, striker Clive Platt is fit again after missing the Peterborough defeat due to a back problem, and so will be putting pressure on fellow strikers Kevin Lisbie and Teddy Sheringham.

“Clive resumed training again on Thursday, and is feeling red-hot,” revealed U's boss Williams.

Midfielder Kevin Watson, who has only made one appearance since the end of November, also returned to training this week following a calf strain. However, he will not feature today.


BRISTOL CITY: Basso, Orr, Vasko, McCombe, McAllister, Sproule, Johnson, Elliott, McIndoe, Noble, Byfield, Showunmi, Trundle, Fontaine, Wilson, Murray, Weale, Skuse.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Ifil, Coyne, Virgo, Duguid, Yeates, Izzet, Jackson, McLeod, Sheringham, Lisbie, Platt, Baldwin, Guttridge, Guy, Granville, White, Elito, Cousins.