Socceroo Chris has World Cup dream

WHILE most players outside the Premiership are currently enjoying their summer holidays, Colchester United's lynch-pin defender Chris Coyne is gearing up for some World Cup qualifying action.

Carl Marston

WHILE most players outside the Premiership are currently enjoying their summer holidays, Colchester United's lynch-pin defender Chris Coyne is gearing up for some World Cup qualifying action.

Overlooked by his native Australia until a fortnight ago, Coyne is now very much a part of Socceroos manager Pim Verbeeck's plans for the forthcoming campaign.

The 29-year-old centre-half has still not made his international debut, but he has been on the bench for the last couple of games - a 1-0 win over Ghana (friendly) and a 1-0 victory over Iraq (first World Cup qualifier). Harry Kewell scored the winner against Iraq at the weekend.

Very few Colchester players have tasted international action during their time at the Essex club, but Coyne could well get the nod over the coming weeks.

Australia have World Cup qualifiers on the road against Iraq again (in Dubai on June 7) and Qatar (in Doha on June 14), before they entertain China in Sydney on June 22.

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Brisbane-born Coyne, who signed for the U's from Luton for a club record £350,000 last January, is currently based back in his native city preparing for the Middle East tour.

Manager Verbeeck said: “It will be a very tough two weeks. We have come here to Brisbane because of the weather and climate, to make it easier to acclimatise to the 40 degrees out in Dubai.” Coyne is the only English-based player from outside the top two divisions to be named in the Socceroos new slimmed-down 26-man squad.

Three Championship players are in the squad - Bristol City's Nick Carle, Sheffield United's David Carney and Derby's Rubin Zadkovich - but Coyne is the only League One representative.

There have been many former internationals to have put on the Colchester United shirt, including the likes of Ray Crawford, Stewart Houston, Kevin Beattie, Alan Hunter, Pat Sharkey and Adrian Coote, and in more recent times Aidan Davison, Teddy Sheringham, Kevin Lisbie and current manager Geraint Williams.

And there have been several ex-U's players who have gone on to represent their country later in their careers after leaving Layer Road. Congalese striker Lomana Lua Lua and Republic of Ireland midfielder Mark Kinsella spring to mind.

In more recent times, Greg Halford (England under-20s), Medy Elito (England under-17s and under-18s), and Mark Yeates (Eire B) have graced the international stage at various levels.

But very few have played for their country at senior level while on the books of Colchester.

Efe Sodje and Mike Masters are two exceptions. Centre-half Sodje won caps for Nigeria during his brief stint with the U's in 2000, while target man Masters made his one appearance for the United States in the summer of 1992, just before his Colchester career officially ended. He was unable to get a work permit to play in the Football League for the following season.

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