Southend’s Ben Coker backs pal Short to follow him into League

SHRIMPERS' SIGNING: Former Bury Town player Ben Coker

SHRIMPERS' SIGNING: Former Bury Town player Ben Coker

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Former Bury Town player Ben Coker believes current Blues right-back Russell Short is good enough to play in the Football League with him.

The 24-year-old left-back or left-sided midfielder has reignited his professional career by signing for League Two promotion hopefuls Southend United this week, following a successful trial spell at Roots Hall.

With professional clubs still reportedly interested in Short, who signed non-contract terms with Bury last week, Coker would not be surprised to find himself lining up against his friend in the future.

“Russell is a good player — I’ve known him for 10 years,” said Coker, who sported a T-shirt from Short’s clothing label The Loyal Love for his contract signing in South Essex. “It wouldn’t surprise me if someone had a punt on him and I think he’s got the right attitude to do well.”

Coker was one of the star attractions of the Bury side that won the Southern League Division One Midlands title in 2010 and subsequently earned himself a move to Colchester United.

Despite being named the U’s young player of the year the following season after breaking into the first team to feature 22 times, Coker’s playing time became more and more limited, ending with his release from the Weston Homes Community Stadium in February.

After a short spell back in non-League with Histon, athlete management company Mark Blundell Partners helped Coker earn a trial with Southend in which he impressed enough to earn a contract with the Shrimpers.

“It’s been brilliant,” said Coker. “I’ve been at Southend for about three weeks and after the Braintree game they said they wanted to offer me a contract and we came to an agreement.”

Even though he made just two appearances for Colchester last season, Coker had faith he would return to the League when he left the Essex side.

“I backed myself and backed my ability,” said the Hatfield-born player, who now wants to repay the faith shown in him by former Hull City and current Southend boss Phil Brown.

“We’ve got to aim for the play-offs and promotion because it’s a big club and because of the players at the club,” he said. “We’ve got to strive for the top with the quality of players we’ve got.”

Coker will face Real Madrid C in Spain on Wednesday before friendlies against Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United XI.