Collins wants to fight for a regular place in the Ireland squad

Town striker James Collins in action for the Republic of Ireland last night
Town striker James Collins in action for the Republic of Ireland last night

Striker James Collins wants to become a regular in the Irish squad after netting a debut goal during last night’s 3-1 friendly win over Bulgaria.

The 28-year-old hadn't expected to be involved at one point, after being put on standby, but was called up when Preston forward Sean Maguire picked up a freak injury in training.

Collins didn't feature in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Thursday night, before knocks to David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson saw the Hatters attacker jump up the pecking order.

He went on to replace Scott Hogan after an hour at the Aviva Stadium, doing what he does best in the closing stages, converting Enda Stevens’ fine cross from the left for a maiden strike.

Mick McCarthy’s side next play in October when they head to Georgia and Switzerland in Euro 2020 qualifying action, as on staying in the squad, Collins said. “Thats my aim, I want to stay in and around the squad, I want to fight for a place.

“We’ve got some great strikers in this country and you need to keep on your toes and keep playing well if you want to stay in and that’s what I intend to try and do.”

When asked what it meant for him to score for the senior side, Collins, who had netted for both the U19s and U21s earlier in his career, added: “To make your debut, to score a goal as well and win, it's a hell of a night for myself and the lads.

"The gaffer said he'll give lads chances and thankfully he’s given me a chance and that’s what I try to do, I try to work hard for the team, bring people into play, get in the box when needed and score goals.

“I think all of that came into play and I’m absolutely over the moon.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great times in my career, promotions, but this is the pinnacle.

“This is the one that means the most to me, to score for Ireland on debut is right up there.”