Hatters striker eager to prove he can step up to the Championship

James Collins scores his second at Welwyn Garden City on Saturday
James Collins scores his second at Welwyn Garden City on Saturday

Town striker James Collins is determined to prove he can cut it in the Championship this season.

The 28-year-old is in his 11th year as a pro, having successfully plied his trade in Leagues One and Two previously.

He has scored more than 150 goals in that time, including 25 as the Hatters won League One last season to give him a first taste of the second tier of English football.

Collins said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never played in the Championship before, so I’m really excited to get a crack at it.

“I just want to make sure I get a good pre-season under my belt, no injuries and then hopefully I’ll be in the mix for trying to get picked for the first game.”

Although Collins was one of the first names on the teamsheet last term, starting 46 matches in all competitions, he knows that might not necessarily be the case with new manager Graeme Jones in charge.

He continued: “It’s a fresh start for everybody, it’s a clean slate. The new manager comes in and he might have different ideas to the previous manager, so everyone’s fighting for that shirt and hopefully it will be a good season.

“It’s been really enjoyable though. The gaffer’s come in with some new ideas and a new regime and we’re looking forward to working with him.”

Jones has already publicly praised his forward for the work-rate he puts into games, and it was on display once more last weekend, Collins scoring twice in the 3-1 friendly win at Welwyn Garden City.

On the plaudits, Collins said: "That’s really nice.

“It’s nice to be noticed for working hard and it’s not just me, everyone works hard, but maybe when strikers work hard it gets noticed a bit more.

“That’s what you have to do, that’s what I build my game on, trying to work hard and trying to force people into mistakes.

“Nothing’s going to change this year, and hopefully I can keep that going.

“We’ve got a lot of hard-working lads in the side as we want to win for each other, so that’s a given these days.”

Town get going in just under a month now, hosting Middlesbrough in their first match, before going to Cardiff and West Bromwich Albion.

Collins added: “It’s really tough, but that’s why you want to get promoted to the Championship. You want to play against these sides and want to mix it with the best.

“I don’t think we could have got three harder games, but we’ve got momentum from last year and we’re looking strong.”