James McClean has praised the mentality and leadership qualities of his Stoke club mate Nathan Collins, in what’s been a break out season for the 18-year-old so far.
Collins, who was given his first-team chance at Stoke under Nathan Jones last season, has continued his development this campaign featuring frequently at the Bet365 – even captaining the club on a couple of occasions.
The young defender had been involved in the provisional 40-man Irish squad before missing the final cut and joining up with the U21s although an injury has ruled him out of the upcoming qualifiers.
Stoke City’s start to the season has been disappointing, with the Potters currently sitting bottom of the Championship table after just one point from six games, but Collins, becoming the club’s youngest ever captain, has been one of the few bright sparks.
McClean is a player who knows Collins more than most having played and trained with the young defender over the early stages of the campaign.
Speaking on the first day of the Irish training camp ahead of their crucial game against Switzerland on Thursday, McClean was full of praise for Collins’ “old school mentality” and “composure” on and off the field.
“It’s refreshing because he’s not your typical young modern-day footballer,” began McClean.
“He’s got that old-school mentality, he’s not flash and brash he’s focused on how he’s perceived as a footballer not how he’s perceived on social media and things like that.
“He’s level headed and he’s taken it all in his stride. He’s very composed on and off the pitch which is a nice trait to have.”
Despite missing out on the senior panel this time around, Collins will likely have a promising international career should he continue to impress at such an early age.
McClean was keen to outline the defender’s potential but stressed that he didn’t want to put too much pressure on Collins this early in his career.
“The lad has a big future in the game. Being a team mate of his at Stoke it’s great for Stoke and at international level it’s good for Ireland going forward.
“Without putting too much pressure on him I think he’ll have a big career.”
Stoke boss Nathan Jones has shown a lot of faith in Collins and was full of praise for the Irish defender after handing him the captain’s armband for the first time last month.
“His temperament is top drawer,” Jones said.
“He doesn’t get fazed or carried away by anything and I really believe he is going to go on and enjoy a wonderful career.
“In fairness to the other lads, there were a number of them I could have given the armband to because we have a number of leaders here.
“There are so many of them who were candidates, but I gave it to Nathan because I trust him – he is a good kid, and somebody I have enormous faith and belief in.”