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Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Thursday, 23 September 2010 12:17 UK

Reo-Coker turns down Sierra Leone

Mohamed Fajah Barrie
BBC Sport, Freetown

Nigel Reo-Coker
Reo-Coker wants to fight for a place in the England squad

Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker has turned down an invitation to play for Sierra Leone.

Leone Stars coach Christian Cole was keen to recruit the England-born star, who is of Sierra Leone descent.

But the 26-year-old has written to the Sierra Leone FA advising them he still has ambitions to play for England.

"I'm flattered by the invitation to play for Sierra Leone and I want to thank the SLFA as I consider it as a mark of respect," Reo-Coker said.

"But I can't play for Sierra Leone because at the moment my concentration is to win a regular place in my club Aston Villa.

"Besides, I believe I still have the prospect to play for England as I'm still young to fight for a place."

The president of the SLFA Nahim Khadi was naturally disappointed by the 26-year-old player's decision.

Khadi said: "I'm disappointed with Reo-Coker's decision because I was convinced that he would accept our invitations.

"I think he knows what's best for him and he believes the decision he has taken is his own best interest."

Reo-Coker captained England at under-21 level but has yet to play for the senior national team, making him eligible to play for the Leone Stars under Fifa's national regulations.

He is the second English footballer with Sierra Leonean roots to have rejected an invitation to play for the Leone Stars in recent months.

Former Crystal Palace and Sheffield United striker Steve Kabba, now with Barnet, also spurned the offer of an international future with the West African nation.

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see also
Sierra Leone hopeful on Reo-Coker
20 Sep 10 |  African
Jarrett selected by Sierra Leone
30 Aug 10 |  Lincoln
Strasser ready for Sierra Leone
28 Aug 10 |  African
Cole gets 2012 qualification task
17 Aug 10 |  African
Bellamy's academy delivers hope
05 Jun 10 |  African

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