On Thursday, Mick McCarthy named his provisional 38-man squad ahead of Ireland’s games against Gibraltar and Georgia at the end of March.
One name who stood out to many was the inclusion of 28-year old Luton Town striker James Collins, a player who has yet to receive a cap for the Boys in Green.
Collins’ form, which has seen him score 20 league goals for his club this season as they sit at the top of the League One table, has clearly impressed McCarthy thus warranting a call-up.
But who exactly is James Collins? Here is everything you need to know about Ireland’s newest frontman.
Date of birth:
December 1st 1990.
Where Is He From?
Collins was born and raised in Coventry in England and started his career with Aston Villa. The 28-year old, however, represented Ireland at both U19s and U21s level and qualifies to play for the Boys in Green through his mother who was born here.
What Position Does He Play?
The 28-year old is about as pure a number nine as you are likely to come across in the modern game. Collins operates as an out an out striker for Luton Town and would certainly be deployed there should he win his first international cap.
Style Of Play?
Collins is an old-style striker who operates as an out and out number nine, and despite being a powerful frontman, has a happy knack of appearing in the right place at the right time in the penalty area.
The 28-year-old can finish well in front of goal but is also strong in the air and his ability to bully defenders could suit in a scrappy game against the likes of Georgia.
Some goals from his February highlights, showcase his excellent movement, and with the plethora of wide options in Ireland’s squad, he could prove to be an excellent penalty box asset.
How Has He Performed In League One For Luton Town This Season?
Outstandingly. Collins is currently the league’s top goalscorer having bagged 20 goals in 35 games so far this season.
The 28-year old has been a massive part in Luton Town’s promotion push which currently sees them five points clear of Barnsley in second spot and crucially seven ahead of third-placed Sunderland.
Collins has been an excellent addition to the Hatters’ setup since he joined them from Crawley with manager Mick Harford explaining that the 28-year old was more than deserving of a call-up given his time at Kenilworth Road.
“I just told him (McCarthy) about James, what his character was like, what he was like as a player, what he was like around the training ground and it was a glowing reference, as that’s the type of player he is.
“He’s a credit to himself in terms of being a footballer, he works his socks off every day he comes in and he’s deserving of his call up.
How Has He Performed At International Level?
As previously mentioned in this article, Collins appeared for Ireland at both U19s and U21 level a number of years ago.
According to Transfermarkt.com, the striker appeared four times for the U19s scoring once, during a time when he was plying his trade at Aston Villa’s academy.
Collins made a significant amount of appearances for the Irish U21s, playing 12 times and scoring three goals, (a hattrick against Liechtenstein) with his first cap coming in 2009 and his last coming in 2012.
Despite often impressing with the U21s, Collins did not receive a call-up to the senior squad until this year.
Why Has He Not Been Called Up To The Senior Squad Before?
Collins always found himself at a distinct disadvantage based upon the level at which he played his football throughout his career so far.
Aside from a rather disappointing season in the Scottish Premiership, the highest level at which Collins has played at is League One, flirting between the bottom two divisions for the most part of his career so far.
He’d always scored goals, however, notching up 15 in the third tier with Swindon during the 2011/2012 season and 40 over two seasons with Crawley before making the move to Kenilworth Road.
The fact that Collins remained rather hidden in his footballing career may have played a big part in his lack of international involvement.