| 4°C Dublin

off target James Collins - it’s been a difficult campaign with injuries and Covid, but we can’t use it as an excuse

Close

Republic of Ireland's James Collins is off target in the Nations League clash with Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium

Republic of Ireland's James Collins is off target in the Nations League clash with Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium

PA

Republic of Ireland's James Collins is off target in the Nations League clash with Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium

Irish striker James Collins was left rueing another night of missed opportunities as Ireland’s patched-up side drew a blank as their goal famine entered its twelfth hour.

“We wanted to win the game,” said Collins, barely acknowledging that Ireland did, at least, preserve their status in Group B of the Nations League.

However, their winless run has cost them a second seeding in December’s World Cup draw and Ireland’s reluctance to make attacking changes hinted that the short-term aim was more important than improving their World Cup hopes.

“I thought we had the better chances,” added Luton man Collins, who missed several himself.

“After half-time, we needed to step up our quality, break the lines and create chances, stop giving away the ball. We looked like a threat.

“We work hard in training the finishing drills are good, it seems not to be there in the match. I hold my hand up, I missed a couple as well.”

Robbie Brady came closest to scoring when smacking a 30-yarder off the post in the final quarter of the game.

“Robbie has that quality, I thought it was in, it didn’t drop for him.

Close

Bulgaria goalkeeper Martin Lukov saves from James Collin

Bulgaria goalkeeper Martin Lukov saves from James Collin

PA

Bulgaria goalkeeper Martin Lukov saves from James Collin

“You can say we’ll be glad to see the back off 2020, the campaign wasn’t what we wanted or the results and not getting to the Euros. Hopefully we can get back to our clubs and then come back in March and go again.”

Collins insisted that the squad, although splintered by absenteeism, remains united and they are also behind their boss.

“I think the confidence and spirit is always in this squad, no matter who is in the squad.

“Of course it’s been a difficult campaign with the injuries and the Covid situation, but we can’t use that as an excuse, it’s happened, it’s a part of life at the minute and we have to try and deal with it.

“The lads who have come in have been excellent. Maybe now we go back to our clubs for a few months and we get everyone fit and hopefully the Covid situation will have died down by March and we’ll have a full squad to pick from and go again.”

“I’ve only met Stephen for the first time in this camp and he’s been excellent for me. I feel really sorry for him because it feels like it’s just one thing after another.

“The lads are all fighting hard for him and his staff, the staff are excellent as well, and we want to win football games.”

“The feeling is obviously one of disappointment because we haven’t won the game.

“We understand that scoring goals at the minute is important, everyone realises that.

“But I thought there were some positive signs tonight in that we created chances in the second-half especially. I thought we were excellent.

“I’s just finding that little bit of luck to get it in the back of the net. I think once it does go in, however that may be, that will start the goals flying in.

“Robbie‘s shot against the crossbar, my chances, it just needed one to go in. The players in this squad won’t shy away from it.

“They are men, they play at the highest level at their clubs. They understand what it means to people.

“We want to win games. We know what we have to do to win games, that’s scoring goals.

“Anyone in this dressing room, myself included, won’t shy away from that.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors


Privacy