2 June 2021
By Roger Jones
Republic of Ireland international James Collins has made his way through to the English domestic, rising from League Two to the Championship. The 30-year-old will now be targeting a place in the Premier League to complete his journey to the top to emulate Jamie Vardy and his meteoric rise through the tiers.
Collins opted to leave Luton Town after a successful four-year period with the Hatters, and joined former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy at Cardiff City. Expectations for the forward will now rise, and he will be charged with scoring the goals that will lead the Bluebirds to promotion to the Premier League.
The club finished eighth in the table last term, falling away towards the end of the campaign and missing out on a place in the playoffs. However, there will be optimism for Cardiff fans if they can harness the form that came following McCarthy’s arrival from APOEL Nicosia. The Bluebirds are backed in the Championship betting odds at 5/1 to earn promotion to the top flight next term, although a lot will hinge on the performances of Collins in the final third.
Collins has played vital roles in promotions in the past. During his career, the forward has been promoted five times, including twice in two years to usher the Hatters into the Championship. Collins notched 19 goals in 42 appearances to fire Luton out of League Two before producing an outstanding campaign in League One, scoring 25 times in only 44 appearances. The 30-year-old was named in the League One Team of the Year due to his exploits.
The jump to the Championship has not fazed the Republic of Ireland international. In his two seasons in the second tier, he has found the net 24 times in 88 games. The Hatters have been a mid-table side at best, therefore, opportunities were not overly forthcoming to match his previous levels of production. However, now working with McCarthy and the Bluebirds, Collins could have the opportunity to become a leading marksman in the division.
One aspect that will aid Collins is the presence of Kieffer Moore in the final third. Moore was exceptional for the club last term, notching 20 goals in his first season at Cardiff City Stadium. The Wales international will draw attention from opposing teams and will allow Collins to drift under the radar. On the downside, Cardiff needs to work to provide ammunition for their frontline given that Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo have both returned to Liverpool at the end of their loan spells. McCarthy may be able to secure a permanent deal for the latter, but Wilson has caught the eye of Premier League teams and might be on the move the top flight.
Josh Murphy and Joe Ralls are still in place and there will no doubt be further additions to the squad in the final third. Collins is in a good situation both for himself and Ireland to cultivate his prowess in front of goal. His fledgling international has been pleasing, scoring twice in eight appearances. If he can kick on in the Championship and break into the Premier League, it will be to the benefit of both the Bluebirds and the Ireland national team. Watch out for his performances next term.