Collins is key for Luton according to ex-Hatter Thorpe

Town striker James Collins
Town striker James Collins

Ex-Luton forward Tony Thorpe thinks the form of striker James Collins is crucial to Town’s chances of enjoying a successful season in the Championship.

The Republic of Ireland international was up and running in his first game, netting a late equaliser against Middlesbrough, and has gone on to bag five already for the Hatters, sitting joint fourth in the division’s list of scorers.

Having watched him against Millwall on Sky recently, Thorpe said of the former Crawley and Shrewsbury frontman, who prior to this season hadn’t played higher than League One: “I’ve been impressed with Collins.

“He’s a good centre forward, reminds me a little bit of myself back in the day, maybe a bit more pace than me, but he’s a goalscorer.

“(Luke) Bolton, he’s done okay too and there’s a couple of other players that I quite like, but you’re going to have to look to Collins this year.

“He’s the one who’s going to hopefully turn those draws into wins, as strikers should, they’re worth every penny.

“If he can continue his form between now and the end of the season, I don’t think they’re going to be too far away from staying up.

“If he has a dry spell, I worry a little bit if they’re not winning at home, but he’s taken to it like a duck to water.

“I think he’ll be absolutely fine and that’s why home form is imperative as if they can create chances he will score goals as he’s a good player.

Collins recently netted his 50th goal for the club, becoming the 26th player to do so in Luton’s long history.

He has some way to go to reach Thorpe’s tally of 84, as the ex-striker sits 11th in the all-time scorers list.

Thorpe, now working for a recruitment company, has fond memories of his time at Kenilworth Road, and would love to see the club’s fans rewarded after some bitterly tough years, namely dropping out of the Football League.

He said: “I’m proud of my record at Luton, it’s not quite the hundred which I would have liked, the rest of it is an old, old story which we’ve heard before.

“I’ve got no problems with Luton supporters though, they’re a fantastically supported club.

“They’re back where I think they should belong and it’s been a long, long road for them.

"They’ve had some tears along the way, but what a climb back to success it’s been.

"Nathan Jones did a fantastic job, which bred confidence for the team and I think they’ve hit the ground running.

“But there’s no easy games in the Championship at all.

“Around 75 per cent are Premier League clubs or have been in the last 10 years, you’ve got your Middlesbrough’s, you’ve got your Fulham’s, real big clubs fighting for that big prize.

“It’s not like Division One where you can have a bad month, the Championship just comes thick and fast.

“Every week you’re thinking ‘we’ve got another tough game, Swansea or whoever it is,’ it just doesn’t go away,

“It will be devastating for Luton to get relegated, because they’ve worked so hard to get where they’ve got to, but me, I think they’ve got more than enough to stay up this year and if they stay up, that will be a great achievement.

“If you look back at their fixtures, they’ve scored in most games.

"The Hull game was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but Hull aren’t bad, they beat Sheffield Wednesday the other week at home, so sometimes you forget about how big some of the clubs are in that league."

The man charged with preserving the club’s Championship status is Graeme Jones, who was given his first managerial job by the Hatters in the summer.

Thorpe hopes that he will get the full support as the season progresses saying: “I remember when he was at Wigan as a player, he’s gone into management with (Roberto) Martinez at Wigan and Everton so he knows his stuff.

“It was a surprise appointment to me, but fair play to the board for giving him a chance, an up and coming good young coach.

“He seems like he’s doing all right at the minute, it’s not going to be easy for him and I hope the crowd stick with him, because I know what Luton fans can be like when things aren’t going well.

“They’ve got to give him time to build, I do think they’ll be all right and he’s doing a really good job.”

When asked to pick the three teams he think might finish below the dotted line this term, Thorpe added: “Stoke are struggling, but I can’t see them being there for that long, Huddersfield either.

"Although they’re up against it at the moment with Nathan and the pressure that’s on him, I actually do think they’ll be all right, they may turn a little corner.

“Millwall, I know Neil (Harris) has just left which is a shame, they’ve been hovering around that bottom for probably the last four or five years now, so there has to come a time.

"They’ll be there or thereabouts, and it’s two of many teams that are fighting at the bottom.

“I think it will be Wigan, Millwall and then you can pick probably one out of five or six teams that will be down there again.”