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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Collins plans to ensure Championship form is worthy of Ireland recall

The Luton Town striker was left out of Mick McCarthy’s squad for the games against Denmark and Gibraltar.

James Collins celebrates after scoring for Luton Town against Burton Albion last April.
James Collins celebrates after scoring for Luton Town against Burton Albion last April.
Image: Anthony Devlin

JAMES COLLINS HAS set his sights on a return to the Republic of Ireland squad as he prepares for his debut in the Championship.

Collins previously had a spell with Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership, but the striker has never played above League One in England.

However, that’s now set to change after his 25-goal contribution helped Luton Town to achieve promotion by winning the League One title last season.

He’ll have an ideal opportunity to stake a claim for an international recall when the Hatters kick off their Championship campaign tomorrow night.

Their opponents, Middlesbrough, will have Ireland assistant coach Robbie Keane in their dugout, after he was appointed to new manager Jonathan Woodgate’s coaching staff during the summer.

Collins, who has yet to win a senior cap, received his first Ireland call-up for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia in March.

The 28-year-old was then omitted from Mick McCarthy’s squad for the games against Denmark and Gibraltar in June. That allowed Collins to recover from a long club season, during which he played 48 games, but he’s now desperate to return to the fold.

“It wasn’t nice not making the final squad, but I respect the decision and Ireland went away and did really well,” he told Luton Today ahead of tomorrow’s visit to the Riverside Stadium.

“It was nice to have a break and spend a bit of time with my family and maybe that was the rest that I needed. My plan is to get in the side, do well for Luton and try and get myself back in that Ireland squad now.”

Ireland will resume their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium on 5 September. A friendly against Bulgaria will take place at the Dublin venue five days later.

The Boys in Green are currently five points clear of Denmark — who have a game in hand — at the top of Group D in European Championship qualifying. Switzerland — who have played two games fewer than Ireland — are six points adrift.

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Paul Dollery

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