Collins will relish the pressure of being at the top with Luton

James Collins scores from the spot against Portsmouth on Tuesday night
James Collins scores from the spot against Portsmouth on Tuesday night

Hatters striker James Collins insist he and his team-mates will relish the pressure of being top of the table during the promotion run-in.

Town moved to the summit by beating Southend last weekend and then moved even further clear of nearest rivals Portsmouth after a magnificent 3-2 victory at Kenilworth Road in midweek.

With Luton now in the position of being the hunted, rather than hunters for the first time this season, and on a 17-game unbeaten league run, Collins said: “That’s the pressure that you want as a footballer.

“You want to be at the top and want people trying to shoot you down.

"I think everyone in that dressing room all realise what sort of position we’re in and I think we’re all ready to stick together and see the run-in through.

“There’s a long way to go, sixteen games to go, so nothing’s done yet, we know that.

"We’re not going to get too above ourselves, we know the job is nowhere near done, but we just need to keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll see who comes out on top.

“I think the momentum has been with us since that unbeaten run.

"We’ve carried it on and everyone’s hoping and thinking we’re going to slip up and I think we’ve proved people wrong, so long may that continue.”

The Hatters have done it the hard way during the last month, taking 10 points from 12, beating Portsmouth, Peterborough and Southend, while drawing at Sunderland too.

They have done so under the interim charge of Mick Harford too, with Nathan Jones leaving to take charge at Stoke City in early January.

Collins continued: "I'm glad to see the end of it, it’s a tough, tough period.

"All the games and the calibre of games we’ve had as well, we’ve had everyone in the top six and think we’ve adapted to that really, really well.

"I can’t speak highly enough of this squad, we don’t fear anyone and everyone’s got something to play for.

"Everyone wants to get promoted and now even more so now the change of manager’s happened, we want to kick on and really prove that we can do it."

Town have also been hindered by the suspension to Danny Hylton, plus injuries to Elliot Lee and Harry Cornick too.

Hylton, plus George Thorne, are now ready to today's game at Shrewsbury, with Lee and Cornick back soon, as Collins added: "We were just talking to Elliot and Harry, we said we’ve got you two to come back and Hylts to come back as well

"Those three are going to be like new signings when they come back and that can only bolster the squad.

“Thorney, his missus just had a baby and he’ll be back in raring to go on Saturday.

"A man of his calibre to come back into this squad as he oozes class, he’s played at the highest level, for him to come back in will only help us."