November 24, 2011
AUCKLAND Ė Junior and Young All Whites star Tim Payne looks poised to bolster the Kiwis Abroad stocks with a likely move to Blackburn Rovers in the New Year.
As per FIFA regulations, Payne must wait until he turns 18 Ė on January 10 Ė before he can sign a professional contract, an unavoidable fact of life in the modern world of football.
"Itís just one of those things you have to get on with, itís a hurdle for sure, but I just canít wait to get back over there," said Payne.
The striker-cum-midfielder spent the best part of two months in England this year and impressed club officials. The 17-year-old is currently back in Auckland but is set to return to the Lancashire club shortly to continue training with a view to signing in the January transfer window.
"Iíve had a big season and it was important to be mentally and physically fresh when I head back over there," Payne added.
Payne holds the record as the youngest player to start a match in ASB Premiership and capped that start with a goal on debut.
His impressive performances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico earlier this year no doubt raised his profile, as did a cameo appearance off the bench in New Zealandís opening FIFA U-20 World Cup match against Cameroon a month later.
Payne's Young All Whites teammates Cameron Howieson and Bill Tuiloma also attracted overseas interest following their performances in Mexico. Howieson is still in England with Burnley, while Tuiloma recently returned home from a stint with the LA Galaxy and will likely return to the MLS club in 2012.
He will hope to follow in the footsteps of Chris Wood who made his English Premier League debut for West Bromwich Albion as a teenager in 2009 and is currently starring for Birmingham City in the Championship.
Like Payne, Wood earned the attentions of professional clubs after an impressive showing at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in South Korea in 2007 which eventually saw him sign with the Baggies.
"Chris Wood is a great example of the opportunities that are now available to kiwi players. I hope I can achieve what he has, but I need to focus on what I can control and have no regrets," said Payne.
Should Payne be successful in securing a contract he will be the second New Zealander on Blackburn's books, joining All Whites skipper Ryan Nelsen.
Payne's Junior All Whites teammate Cameron Lindsay was also part of the Rovers set-up before deciding on a move home to the Wellington Phoenix earlier this year.