Town striker Collins wants to remain in Ireland's squad for their World Cup qualifiers

James Collins gets a header in during the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on SundayJames Collins gets a header in during the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday
James Collins gets a header in during the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday
Forward is back in the plans of new manager Stephen Kenny

Luton striker James Collins hopes he can do enough to remain in Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny’s plans for the World Cup qualifiers next March.

The 29-year-old had won four caps for his country, scoring once, but then missed out on selection for almost a year with Kenny replacing Mick McCarthy in the hot-seat.

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He returned during November though and came off the bench in the 1-0 Nations League defeat at Wales, before starting the 0-0 draw with Bulgaria back in November, playing 85 minutes.

Collins now wants to stay in the squad for their World Cup qualifiers at Serbia on March 24, home to Luxembourg on March 27, before a friendly with Qatar on March 30.

The forward said: “The March qualifiers were pushed back, then the manager changed and everything was a bit up in the air.

"The new manager came in and he had different ideas, that’s fair enough, that’s down to him, but I managed to do quite well for Luton at the start of the season and he gave me my chance in November.

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"So I’d like to think that I’ve done okay and hopefully I can keep my form up now and be in his plans for the March squads."

Collins was also quick to praise manager Nathan Jones for the impact he has had on his career, with the boss bringing him to Kenilworth Road from Crawley Town back in June 2017.

He continued: "For me personally, he’s a massive part of my success at Luton.

"He signed me, he’s shown trust in me, he’s played me and I can’t thank him enough.

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"He’s been brilliant for me personally and I think a lot of lads here would say the exact same.

"When he went away I was gutted as we were just building momentum in League One, but fortunately for us we carried that on as players and Mick (Harford) as well taking over.

“We managed to kick on and go and win the league, but when I got the news he was coming back again, I was over the moon as I knew how good he’s been for me in the past and we’d have a great chance of staying up.

"He proved that and we’ve gone on to do quite well this year too."

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The striker is one of a number of the squad who have come up through the leagues with the Hatters, featuring in both League Two, League One and is now a Championship regular.

After leaving Aston Villa as a youngster in January 2011 for Shrewsbury, Collins is thrilled to now be plying his trade in the second tier of English football, making his 500th career appearance at the weekend.

He added: "When you step up into the Championship, it gets real.

"The amount of games you play, the intensity, you get Premier League clubs coming down with massive squads and big budgets and big fanbases, but that’s why I wanted to leave Villa when I was younger.

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"I wanted to make my way up into the Championship at some point and I’ve managed to do that, but a lot of the lads in this squad now started with the club in League Two.

"The gaffer has seen that he’s signing players for the Championship and I think all of us have proved that we can make that jump."