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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 4 March 2021
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'I should have had a couple tonight, I hold my hands up'

James Collins expressed disappointment following tonight’s 0-0 draw with Bulgaria.

Ireland's James Collins after a missed opportunity.
Ireland's James Collins after a missed opportunity.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JAMES COLLINS LAMENTED Ireland’s barren run in front of goal and acknowledged his own finishing could have been better during tonight’s 0-0 draw with Bulgaria.

The Luton star was handed a start after Norwich striker Adam Idah, who has generally been first choice since Stephen Kenny took charge, was ruled out through injury.

The 29-year-old, who has found the net five times in nine appearances for the Championship club, showed good movement at times this evening but could not find a much-needed goal for his country.

“We came into the game wanting to win it and definitely not to lose,” he told Sky Sports afterwards.

“We had the better chances to do that. We just couldn’t break them down.

“I suppose on a positive note, we haven’t been relegated [from the Nations League], so a bit of good news.”

After a fairly lacklustre first half, the hosts improved after the break, and ended the match looking the more likely of the two teams to break the deadlock.

“We just needed to step up our quality,” Collins said. “Once we won the ball back, we needed to break the lines and create more chances and stop giving the ball away sloppily.

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“In the second half, we did that and we looked a threat.”

And asked whether the team’s recurring failure in front of goal was down to a lack of confidence, he replied: “Not really. We work hard on it in training. We do finishing drills. The finishing was good before the game today. It’s just when teams get to games, it’s not quite there. It’s down to me too, I should have had a couple tonight, I hold my hands up. But it just wasn’t to be.”

Before an injury ended his game prematurely, Burnley star Robbie Brady came closest to scoring, as an ambitious effort from the edge of the area came back off the bar.

“Robbie’s got that quality. He’s a great striker of the ball and he caught it well, and to be honest, I thought it was in. But it just wasn’t our night and it didn’t drop for him.”

It’s been a dour year for the Irish side that yielded zero wins and just a single goal in eight games under Kenny. Asked whether the team would be glad to see the back of 2020, Collins responded: “You could say that. The campaign has not been what we wanted. We didn’t get the results we wanted to and were knocked out of the Euro qualifiers as well, so we can go away now, have a few months with our clubs and come back fresh in March raring to go.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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