Collins: Championship is worlds apart from League One

Town striker James Collins admitted that playing in the Championship this term is ‘worlds apart’ from what he and most of the Luton squad have been used to.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 8:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 8:43 am
Town striker James Collins celebrates his goal at Preston on Saturday

Although now in his 10th year as a professional, Collins had spent all his career at League Two and One level, barring a season in the Scottish Premier League with Hibernian too.

The Hatters regained their place back in the second tier of English football after just over a decade away by winning League One last term, and on the step-up in class, Collins said: “It’s worlds apart, but that’s what we wanted to get promoted for.

“We wanted games like that and for me personally, I always look forward to the games more, when it’s against the bigger teams and I’m sure it’s the same for the other lads.

“I’ve never played at the level before, so I love every minute of it.

“I look forward to every game more and more, because I’ve always wanted this chance to play in the Championship.

“I’m sure the rest of the lads who haven’t played in the Championship before, they feel the same, it’s a great league and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it pans out.”

With that in mind, Collins knows his side have to remain on the ball from minute one to 90 and cut out the individual errors that have blighted their game at times this term.

He continued: “That’s part of being a footballer, you might have got away with it in League Two and League One, but we know this year, as we have seen, if you don’t switch on for 90, 95 minutes, you do get punished.

“I think once we do get to grips with that, we’ll be fine.”

Collins had started the campaign with a bang, scoring five in his opening nine Championship outings as he looked to have made the quick adjustment to his new surroundings.

However, a seven match goal drought then followed, which was ended against Leeds United, before he bagged his seventh of the season from the penalty spot in the 2-1 defeat at Preston North End on Saturday.

He said: “I was delighted to put it away, unfortunately it wasn’t enough though.

“I think every striker wants to get double figures throughout the season and I only need a few more to get to that.

“If I can get to that before January that will be great, if not, I’ll just have to keep making sure I’m working hard to keep going.

“But I think where Luton Town finish at the end of the year is a little bit more important than how many goals I’ve got.”

Boss Graeme Jones certainly had no doubt with Collins’ ability from 12 yards, as he said: “He took it really well.

“Every Friday we have a little competition so we never drop standards.

“He takes them, we put him under pressure and proves a little bit of dividend when he scores, it was very, very comfortable.”

With Izzy Brown injured and Town looking to arrest a run of six straight losses on the road, Jones changed his formation at Deepdale.

It meant Collins occupied the lone striker’s role, keeping him in a far more central position than he has been asked to play in recent weeks.

The striker said: “I thought it went well, I thought we stopped them playing quite a lot and I felt more comfortable in the position.

“I like to play as a nine, I played up through the middle and I really enjoyed it.

“It’s a bit more of my game, I can play that way, that’s not me saying I won’t play anywhere else, it’s just I feel that this is my best position.”

One thing Collins wants to stop though is Town’s inability to score the first goal in a game, as they conceded first at Preston on Saturday, the 10th successive match in which they have had to come back from behind.

This time it was due to a spot-kick given away by Matty Pearson for holding, as Collins added: “It’s not a great trait to have to keep conceding first. I don’t know if it was a penalty, Matty says it’s not, but they’re the sort of decisions that are going against us at the minute.

“We’ve got to eradicate those mistakes and maybe try to score the first goal.”