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Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Monday, 20 September 2010 12:38 UK

Sierra Leone set to call up Nigel Reo-Coker

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie
BBC Sport, Freetown

Nigel Reo-Coker
Reo-Coker led England at the U21 European Championships in 2007

Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker has been invited to play for Sierra Leone for the first time.

BBC Sport has learnt that Leone Stars coach Christian Cole will pick the 26-year-old for October's 2012 Nations Cup qualifier at home to South Africa.

Reo-Coker is an English-born footballer of Sierra Leonean descent and has been seeking a senior career with England.

He captained England at Under-21 level and was on stand-by for England's 2006 World Cup squad despite being uncapped.

However, he had to withdraw from that position due to a back injury and is still eligible to play for the West African nation since he has yet to play for England at senior level.

The Sierra Leonean Football Association (SLFA), whose representatives have qualified for just two senior Nations Cups, have been chasing Reo-Coker for years.

And with the midfielder's England dreams seemingly over, SLFA general secretary Abdul Rahman Swarray is confident the Londoner may finally make the switch.

Swarray added that Reo-Coker has confirmed receipt of the SLFA's invitation for the 10 October clash in Freetown through his agent Tony Finnigan.

"From what I've heard from his agent, I'm confident that Reo will honour our invitation to play for his country of origin," said Swarray.

"We need a player like him to boost our team."

One potential stumbling block is that the SLFA has yet to apply to Fifa to request Reo-Coker's nationality switch, preferring to wait for his answer first.

The former Wimbledon and West Ham United player is not the first English-born player with Sierra Leonean linkage to be approached by the SLFA.

The SLFA succeeded in convincing the ex-Fulham and West Ham striker Leroy Rosenior to play for the Leone Stars against Togo in a 1994 Nations Cup qualifier.

Rosenior then went on to coach Sierra Leone in 2007.

Should Reo-Coker honour Sierra Leone's call-up, he'll be joining a team that has qualified for just two Nations Cups in its entire history.

Coach Cole will name his squad for the meeting with the 2010 World Cup hosts later this week.

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Sierra Leone hopeful on Reo-Coker
20 Sep 10 |  African