Collins will have a late test ahead of United clash

James Collins is a doubt for this weekend's clash
James Collins is a doubt for this weekend's clash

Top scorer James Collins is a doubt for this weekend’s League Two clash against Cambridge United at Kenilworth Road.

The striker, who has nine goals so far this term after joining from Crawley Town in the summer, went off in the 2-2 draw with Cheltenham last week after overstretching his leg.

Elliot Lee scored against Cheltenham

Elliot Lee scored against Cheltenham

Collins has been involved in training, but manager Nathan Jones won’t risk him if he’s not quite ready, saying: “We’re assessing him daily, he’s had a bit of stiffness in there, so we won’t risk him if there’s any doubt about it.

“He was outside today, but we’ve got a strong enough squad that people can step in and that’s why we’ve assembled the squad, that’s why we’ve tried to keep all the squad right at it, and they’ve been a great group to me.

“Any time we’ve made changes, they’ve had an impact.

“It’s not just been a makeshift one coming in and trying to get through games, we’ve got ones who can really impact.”

We’ve got a big squad to choose from and then Collo is one that will be a late assessment.

Nathan Jones

Fellow striker Elliot Lee would be the obvious choice to replace Collins and make his first league start of the season, as he played 45 minutes against Cheltenham, scoring his third goal of the campaign from close range.

Although the ex-West Ham frontman admitted to a sense of frustration with his bit part role so far, on Lee’s professionalism since arriving from Barnsley, Jones continued: “He’s impressed me with his attitude, because I said, he’s come here to play and all of them have come here to play.

“I haven’t recruited one and said to them, ‘look, you’ve just got to play second fiddle,’ there’s real competition now.

“The two (Danny Hylton and Collins) that have played the majority of those games have scored eight and nine respectively.

“Elliot when he’s come on has done really well and the attitude he’s shown means that when he gets the opportunity to play 45 the other day, it doesn’t detract from the performance of the team.

“He comes on, he impacts, he’s a different threat to James Collins, he’s a different threat to Danny Hylton, Harry Cornick, he’s a different threat from him.

“So we may not have a direct replacement for James Collins, but we have a different threat and they’re four different strikers and then with Cookie (Jordan Cook) and obviously (Aaron) Jarvis as well, who’s still finding his feet, there’s a good threat.

“They’re all wanting to impact and that’s the main thing as they’ll all get their chance and they they’ve got to take it and stay in the team.

“So Elliot took his chance, his really did.”

Lee’s inclusion could also depend on what system Jones opts to go with, he was part of a front three at Whaddon Road last weekend, after Jones had reverted to his diamond formation during the FA Cup win over Portsmouth previously.

The boss said: “We felt at Cheltenham, that with the massive slant on the pitch, the weather is usually windy and we felt we could get more penetration with the three.

“That might change at home, it might not change at home.

“Against Coventry at home we played the three, against Stevenage at home we played the three, we felt against Portsmouth we could hurt them in the diamond which we did.

“So we’re proficient in two shapes, we work vehemently on two shapes, so that whenever we need to change them we do and it depends what we see right for certain games.”

Meanwhile, on both Johnny Mullins and Alan McCormack’s fitness, Jones added: “Mullins has had a full weeks training, McCormack played at Barnet on Tuesday in our development game, so they’re both back in contraction.

“That’s good news for us as they’re both big players and apart from Collo, everyone has a clean bill of health.

“We’ve got a big squad to choose from and then Collo is one that will be a late assessment.”