Spotlight: James Collins
Aston Villa’s Republic of Ireland under-21 international James Collins goes by many names at his parent club in order to differentiate the 19 year old from the 27 year old Villa and Wales defender of the same name. He may be known as James Collins, James Collins Junior, Jim Collins, or James Collins (footballer born 1990) at Villa, but at Burton Albion this season, the fans are regularly chanting “there’s only one James Collins” from the stands.
The Coventry-born striker signed for Burton Albion on loan on the 15th of October on an initial one-month loan spell, where manager Paul Peschisolido immediately put him into the Brewers’ starting eleven. “I’ve been to watch James on quite a few occasions this season,” said Peschisolido. “He’s a big lad and he’s got a great attitude. If we get the ball in the box I think he’ll get on the end of things.
“For the amount of crosses we’ve had this season I don’t think we’ve scored enough goals from them. I’ve spoke Steve Staunton who had him on loan at Darlington last year and he was very complimentary. He scored two goals and that Darlington team wasn’t the best in the world.
“Everyone at Aston Villa speaks very highly of the boy. He’s got that hunger to succeed and that goes a long way. He’s still a young lad and it’ll take him time to settle though. He’s here for an initial month so we’ll see how he gets on. Hopefully he’ll fire quite a few goals for us and then we’ll look to extend it.”
During that three month loan spell at Darlington, Collins featured irregularly, and did not make the kind of impact he would have wished. However, he did start six games for the Quakers as well as making two substitute appearances, scoring two goals. It was at Darlington that Collins scored his first senior goal, against Hereford in League Two on the 31st of October 2009. Collins popped up again Chesterfield a month later, before returning to Aston Villa in the new year.
Collins is yet to feature for Aston Villa’s senior team, but has impressed for both their Academy and Reserve sides. In the 2008/09 Academy Season, he was the club’s top scorer with 23 goals in just 22 games. He played all six of Villa’s reserve games this season before moving to Burton, scoring three goals, including a brace against Blackpool.
This season has been his most successful to date, having played six league games for Burton Albion, and hitting the net four times. He also played for the Brewers against Oxford in the FA Cup first round, helping his side to a 1-0 win.
Collins made his Irish competitive debut for Sean McCaffrey’s under-19s against Liechtenstein on the 23rd of November 2008, coming on at half-time for Bohemians striker Paddy Madden. However, his competitive debut wasn’t a success, as he was booked just after coming on. Then he was called offside, but after playing on and scoring a (disallowed) goal, he received a second yellow card and was sent off. His actual debut at under-19 level was in a friendly nine months previous, which was far more memorable, scoring Ireland’s only goal in a 2-1 loss away to Russia, heading home from an excellent Johnny Dunleavy cross.
He went on to play for the Ireland under-19s a total of five times, scoring in three separate games, including the winner in a 2-1 away win over Sweden in the European Qualifiers Elite Stage. In 2009, he moved up to the Ireland under-21s, making his debut at that level in a European Qualifier against Georgia, partnering Cillian Sheridan in attack. He’s played a total of five games at under-21 level to date, but at just 19 years of age, is sure to play a lot more, especially if his goalscoring form continues.