JAMES COLLINS

The Lu­ton Town striker eyes up an­other League Two pro­mo­tion tilt

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Dan Barnes

JAMES Collins has al­ready bagged a hat-trick of pro­mo­tions from League Two – and he reck­ons he could be on to a win­ner again with Lu­ton Town.

Collins joined the Hat­ters from fel­low fourth-tier side Craw­ley Town this sum­mer for a fee re­ported to be in the £250,000 re­gion.

And the 26-year-old, who net­ted 22 goals last term, re­paid a slice of that money by bang­ing in a hat-trick as Lu­ton ham­mered hap­less Yeovil 8-2 in an in­cred­i­ble sea­son opener at Ke­nil­worth Road last week­end.

A 2-0 home de­feat against Cham­pi­onship side Ip­swich Town followed in the Carabao Cup, but it’s no won­der the pow­er­ful striker is al­ready plan­ning for more League Two glory.

The former As­ton Villa trainee twice helped Shrews­bury Town to sec­ond-placed fin­ishes – in 2011-12 and 2014-15 – and he also spent the sec­ond half of the 2015-16 sea­son on loan with Chris Wilder’s Northamp­ton Town, who won the ti­tle by 13 points.

“I think there are sim­i­lar­i­ties to teams that I’ve been a part of in the past,” ad­mit­ted Collins.

“At Shrews­bury and at Northamp­ton, there were some tal­ented play­ers there and I think this side I’m a part of now cer­tainly has the at­tributes to repli­cate that kind of suc­cess.

“There may be even more play­ers to come in be­tween now and the end of the win­dow, but cer­tainly the squad we’ve got now should be com­pet­ing at the top of the ta­ble.”

One-time Czech Repub­lic in­ter­na­tional goal­keeper Marek Stech and ex­pe­ri­enced mid­field war­rior Alan McCor­mack – a former team­mate of Collins at Swin­don Town – are just a cou­ple of the other new faces that have ar­rived at Ke­nil­worth Road this sum­mer.

Mean­while, de­fender James Justin and mid­fielder Pel­lyRud­dock Mpanzu have both signed new deals with the Hat­ters fol­low­ing in­ter­est from Cham­pi­onship clubs.

Im­pact

“We had a great squad any­way, but the tal­ented play­ers we’ve brought in are only go­ing to en­hance our chances this sea­son,” said Collins. “W e’ve got some great faces through the door and it’s an ex­cit­ing time.”

His spell with Craw­ley, which lasted just a sin­gle sea­son, was the most fruit­ful of his ca­reer so far. His goals were cru­cial in help­ing the Red Devils keep their heads above wa­ter in the nether re­gions of the ta­ble.

But the former Repub­lic of Ire­land U21 in­ter­na­tional is hun­gry to make an im­pact at the busi­ness end this term.

“I want to be suc­cess­ful and I want to be at the top of the ta­ble,” said Collins.

“Leav­ing Craw­ley was a tough de­ci­sion. I had a good sea­son there, but when a team like Lu­ton comes in for you you have to take the op­por­tu­nity. We had a great pre-sea­son and it’s been a real eye-opener be­cause of the fa­cil­i­ties at the club and things like that.

“The play­ers and staff have been great and I’m just glad I’m here. It’s been a good start and long may it con­tinue.”

Collins’ hat-trick in the open­ing-day win over the Glovers was his third ca­reer tre­ble and he’s con­vinced the Hat­ters are ready to launch a ti­tle bid fol­low­ing play-off semi-fi­nal heart­break last term.

“The club have made quite a few sign­ings this sum­mer be­cause they want to do a lot bet­ter this year – and I want to do my bit to help us try to get pro­moted,” he added.

Not many would back against him.

PIC­TURE: Gareth Owen

GO­ING UP: Collins en­joys pro­mo­tion with Shrews­bury in 2012 DREAM DE­BUT: James Collins cel­e­brates the first of his three goals against Yeovil

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