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Luton Town boss expects Ireland call-up for in-form striker Collins

Mick Harford has backed League One’s leading goalscorer to feature for Mick McCarthy’s side next month.

Luton Town striker James Collins.
Luton Town striker James Collins.
Image: EMPICS Sport

JAMES COLLINS IS worthy of a place in the Republic of Ireland senior squad for next month’s European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.

That’s the view of Luton Town caretaker manager Mick Harford, who will have to plan without Collins for his side’s game against Doncaster Rovers if the striker is summoned for the double-header by Ireland boss Mick McCarthy.

Having come up from League Two last season, Luton are on course for another promotion. The Hatters have a five-point lead at the top of League One, thanks in no small part to the contribution of Collins.

Currently top of the goalscoring charts in the division, the former Aston Villa trainee has found the net 19 times in the league, with 10 of those strikes coming in his last seven outings.

Robbie Keane, who’s a member of Mick McCarthy’s new backroom staff, was at Kennilworth Road earlier this month to see Collins scoring against Wycombe Wanderers.

“I think [Ireland] will definitely have a look at him,” Mick Harford — a twice-capped England striker during his own playing career — told the Luton Herald & Post. “He’s in form, he’s the in-form striker in the league, scored 19 goals and everyone wants goalscorers.

James Collins and Philipp Ospelt James Collins playing for Ireland U21s against Liechtenstein in 2012. Source: Cathal Noonan

“His movement’s magnificent in the box, he works his socks off and I fully think he’ll get a call-up and deservedly. We would all be delighted for him. Obviously we’d miss him, but we’d be delighted for him.”

Collins is a former Ireland U21 international but has yet to be recognised at senior level. The English-born forward is in his second season at Luton, having joined the club in the summer of 2017 from Crawley Town.

“He deserves all the accolades that he’s getting and hopefully — fingers crossed — he gets the call-up, as I believe he can be a massive help to the national side,” Luton Town’s Irish midfielder Alan McCormack said of Collins.

“Especially after seeing them play over the last few years, we’ve kind of stalled and gone downhill a little bit, struggling in front of goal. So if you bring someone like Collo in, who knows where the back of the net is, he deserves a chance.”

Mick McCarthy’s second spell in charge of the Boys in Green begins away to Gibraltar on 23 March, followed three days later by the visit of Georgia to the Aviva Stadium.

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Paul Dollery

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