The Monday Profile: James Collins

Posted by on Aug 15, 2011 in The Monday Profile | No Comments
Following my side’s two successive relegation seasons after a decent stretch in the Championship, I’ve now reached the point at which I’m struggling to recognise opposition players. Hell, I’m even having trouble with our own.It’s only been two years since those halcyon days when I was accustomed to seeing the same faces and was able to build up personal beef with individuals (since you ask, I never had much time for Steven Thompson or Paul Ince) but this past year or so has been like starting out again. With Football Manager forcibly banished from the household for ever more, I’ve had to rely on facts and information from this world, and last year witnessed an extra curricular effort as I dutifully sat through not one, but two, rounds of divisional highlights on the Football League Show every single week.

So, imagine my frustration at feeling that I now have to keep my eyes open for a further 20 minutes now that Argyle are back down in the Basement; having last competed at this level some 10 years ago, the only players I know are those that have either fallen from a more lofty perch or have simply dropped from last term’s League 1.

Kicking off at Shrewsbury last week, then, there was just one Salopian that I could recall seeing in the flesh following a pre-season trip two years ago to watch Marvin Morgan in Aldershot colours at Southern League side Didcot Town. I was mightily impressed that day, but the Mancunian League 2 dweller has had a mixed time of it since and failed to impose himself in last week’s fixture. Instead, it was his partner in attack, James Collins, that caught my eye on the afternoon.

Playing with Morgan at the head of a fairly conventional 4-4-2, Collins puffed like a trooper throughout the 90 and stood out for sheer horsepower. That said, chances were at a premium and little was created by the front two, Shrewsbury instead relying on the pace and movement of Lionel Ainsworth and Mark Wright on either wing. Ainsworth in particular was a real thorn and, if his diddy height can be overlooked, it would be no surprise to see a club a step or two up give him another chance at playing at a higher level in the near future.

Ainsworth, of course, has had spells at Derby, Watford and Huddersfield, but to name a few, and in being blooded at a higher level, the chalk-booted winger has something in common with Collins. Having started out with the Villa, the Irish striker would have probably have hoped and expected to be performing on a bigger stage at this stage of his career but, following a fruitless period as a professional Villain in which the highlight was making the first-team squad for a European game in Vienna, Collins was allowed to leave for Shropshire, signing an initial 18-month contract with the Shrews back in January.

Salop’s manager Graham Turner had more than a smattering of reserve team appearances to base his verdict on, however. Indeed, following a short loan spell with Darlington in their 2009-10 Football League Dog Days in which he scored a brace of goals, Collins impressed at Burton at the beginning of last season. Knocking in 5 from thirteen appearances during an emergency loan, Turner moved quickly for Collins during the next transfer window, signing him up alongside Mark Wright in an attempt to secure more goals.

It didn’t quite work out last season, with Shrewsbury falling victim to a much publicised non-goal, but on the back of two decent enough points from as many games and a cracking League Cup win at Derby, Salop look well-placed to at least match their top 7 finish last season. Travelling to Oxford tomorrow evening, Turner may well opt, however, to line up without Collins for the first time this term. Replaced by the exotically-named Terry Gornell on Saturday, who went on to equalise in the embers, Collins might have to take a step back before his next leap but if his determined and selfless opening day performance was anything to go by then we may yet see more of this young man.

is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He's 31, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol. He tweets @lloydlangman.

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