Jones believes Luton will benefit from Collins' international exploits

James Collins celebrates his goal for Ireland on Tuesday night
James Collins celebrates his goal for Ireland on Tuesday night

Town boss Graeme Jones believes the Hatters will reap the benefits from striker James Collins’ goalscoring debut for the Republic of Ireland against Bulgaria in midweek.

The 28-year-old made his first appearance for his country on Tuesday night, replacing Scott Hogan on the hour mark.

Collins then grabbed the final goal in the 3-1 victory, in typical predatory style, stretching to turn home Enda Stevens’ cross with five minutes left.

He has now returned to Kenilworth Road and is expected to lead the line for the Hatters against QPR this weekend, as Jones said: “I think it will give us more.

“For him, he’s now a Championship player and an international footballer, at a really good international level.

“The mental step that we keep talking about, he’s made it.

“He’s made his debut and scored, he’ll feel valuable, he’s contributed, he doesn’t feel out of his depth.

“If anything, typical James, he relished in it, so I think we’ll feel the benefits of that.”

Jones had been an interested spectator in midweek, watching the first half of the England v Kosovo Euro 2020 qualifier on TV, then switching channels to the Ireland match, the second Collins was involved.

He continued: “I was flicking and as soon as I saw James come on, I stayed with the Ireland game.

“It was a typical James Collins performance, one full of courage and character, who doesn’t get fazed by anything.

“He gave them a presence, out himself around, got a hold of the ball, some nice touches at times and then wants to score goals.

“He’s in the box because he wants to score goals and I think he got rewarded for it.

Collins went into the game on the back of netting three times for the Hatters in his first six Championship appearances, as Jone thought that had helped him adapt to the job in hand.

He added: “I think it’s the measurement of all his work. If he didn’t go through the period with us with eight games, six in the league, he mightn’t have been ready for that level.

“The challenges he’s taken on the chin, every single step of the way and maybe that’s helped him for his Republic of Ireland debut.

“But his character is just, he’s a brave character, he’s come on, ‘I’ll have a go,’ and I think everyone respects that.”