Hatters boss expects ‘brilliant’ Collins to benefit from a chance to freshen up as he looks to pair top scorer with new signing Adebayo in the future

Town manager backs leading marksman to continue his fine form for Luton

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:56 pm
Hatters striker James Collins
Hatters striker James Collins

Hatters Luton boss Nathan Jones believes that striker James Collins will benefit from a spell out of the firing line with the emergence of recent signing Elijah Adebayo.

The 30-year-old has been Town’s top scorer for the last two seasons in a row, and looks odds-on to continue that status this term, with 10 goals to his name already, Jordan Clark and George Moncur his nearest rivals with three apiece.

The forward has struggled to find the net recently though, as following a hat-trick against Preston North End on December 12, has netted just once in his last 16 outings.

That saw transfer deadline day acquisition from Walsall, Adebayo, start three matches in a row against Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, opening his account in the 1-1 draw with the Lions and then notching a dramatic late winner against the Owls.

Collins was back in the side for the trip to leaders Norwich on Saturday, going close twice in the first 10 minutes, prodding George Moncur’s delivery wide and then hitting the post from close range once Tom Ince’s cross-shot fell to him.

It might be that he is back on the bench when Swansea City visit Kenilworth Road this weekend though and when asked how the attacker, who has an impressive 69 goals in 171 appearances since moving to Kenilworth Road from Crawley Town in the summer of 2017 has reacted to playing second fiddle in recent matches, something he hasn’t really had to do throughout his career so far, Jones said: “He’s taken it as he would, he’s an excellent professional in terms of that and we are really happy.

“James had bore the brunt of the goals for a long time and sometimes that takes its toll. 

“I’ve spoken to him and I’ve felt at the minute that he’s not quite looked as sharp, not because it’s loss of form or anything, I think he’s just worked so hard for so long, then suddenly the game opens up on 70-80 minutes, and somebody else gets a chance that maybe he would have benefited from. 

“So we’ve just turned things around, we’ve brought Elijah in to give us something different, so we have good competition there now with (Danny) Hylton, (Harry) Cornick and (Sam) Nombe, and we’ve tried to demand from them all, so they are all competing.

“But James has been brilliant for this club, he’s still going to be brilliant for this club. 

“It’s just he’s played so many games and put in so many big shifts, sometimes it takes its toll and I think he needs the freshening up if I’m honest.”

With Adebayo catching the eye since signing for the Hatters with some excellent displays leading the line, when asked if he could see the two forwards playing together in the future, Jones added: “Of course, absolutely.

“We tried to implement something other day against Forest, and second half against Sheffield Wednesday we went to a diamond which is a shape we know very well.

“We continued that for 60 minutes against Forest, because we would like to evolve back into that side that we were in League Two and League One, into the Championship, so playing two up front is something that eventually we’d like to go to.”