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By ESPN Staff

Reo-Coker targets first-team football

Nigel Reo-Coker insists the next step in his career will be made for footballing reasons and not financial gain as he set his sights on winning an England spot.

Reo-Coker's current four-year contract with Aston Villa ends this summer and he would be entitled to leave on a Bosman transfer. Villa are planning talks with Reo-Coker over a new deal and he admits owing a debt to manager Gerard Houllier - currently recovering from a heart problem - for putting him back into the first team.

Reo-Coker said: ''I don't care what profession you are in, it makes a difference playing in today's modern Premier League consistently in the team. Playing is the most important thing about my future. I won't lie about it, it has been an up-and-down four years for me at Aston Villa.

''It will be a big decision to make but the most important thing is about playing football. You have to review the whole situation of how your career has panned out for the whole four years.''

Reo-Coker added: ''I want to stress, it (my future) has never been financial for me. I am going to be 27 next week and it is about playing football. I am entering the so-called peak years of a professional footballer and I still believe the best is yet to come from me.

''It is going to be a difficult decision and not an easy decision to make but you have to do what is best for your career, your aspirations and your family.''

Reo-Coker admitted: ''There has been interest from foreign clubs and most of the clubs are playing in the Champions League. That is something you would like to participate in and I am a footballer for the fact of playing at the highest level.

''You want to play in the biggest competitions and want to win things and achieve things in your career. I am not a footballer for the show of just being a footballer. I am serious about my profession and about what I want to achieve and do.''

Reo-Coker is a former England Under-21 skipper and has never given up hope of making the next step at international level.

He said: ''That is something I have never given up on. I believe I am good enough to play at that level. It is a matter of time and being given the opportunity. With that situation, you look at Gareth Barry when he was here.

''He was only given the opportunity because of the fact that Frank Lampard was injured. How many other players are England missing out on because they haven't been given an opportunity to show what they can do. I could further my England ambitions if I was staying at Villa.

''You just have to look at the amount of England players that make it into the England squad from this club.''

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