no fear | 

Nathan Collins says he’s ‘backing our squad against whoever, I think we can win any game’

Nathan Collins© SPORTSFILE

Sunday World

Despite making peace with the man on the wrong end of his studs (Jack Grealish), he will still be serving that suspension when the draw is made for the Euro 2024 qualifiers next month, but despite Ireland’s loss to Scotland on Saturday, Wolves man Collins is able to reflect and says the current team are on the right track and will fear no one when it comes to their European rivals.

Collins has played in five competitive senior international games and been on the losing side, by a one-goal margin, three times, but ahead of tonight’s game at home to Armenia, he stresses that the slim margins of the senior game will fall for his team.

“Of course you have to win every game, there’s not a game where we go in thinking we can’t win, no matter who the opponent is. Like we can play against the best in the world, like we did against Belgium, we go in there and think we can get a win, it doesn’t really change anything,” says the former Cherry Orchard man.

“Every game we go in, I’m backing our squad against whoever and I think we can win any game. Looking at the campaign, there’s two ways of looking at it. You can look at results and think, maybe it could have been a lot better and then you look at the performances and think maybe one game we’ve not been at it but most games we’ve been involved, we’ve nearly been the better team and had chances and defended well. So it’s whatever way you want to look at it.

“From my perspective, I think, as a team, you can see every game we are getting better, you can see every game we are growing as a team, as a unit. Players are coming in and causing other players to lose their spot because the standard of the team is really good. To have that in a team at this level is crucial and the longer it continues and the squad settles it will be really good,” added the Premier League player.

He’s known in this country as the most expensive Irish player ever, on the back of his €24million move to Wolves from Burnley, but Collins had an unwanted spell in the spotlight two weeks ago, when shown a straight red card for a tackle in the first half of Wolves’ 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

Some reacted with glee to the fact that it was Grealish, a former underage international with Ireland who is now an England player who was so roughly tackled by Collins, it looked like a revenge-for-Skibbereen-type moment for some, but he insists there’s no bad blood. “It’s been eventful to say the least,” of his recent spell. “It was a mistimed tackle. I said it to Jack after the game. I didn’t mean to go for you, there was nothing malicious in it. That was it. It happens. Got to get on with life. If I’ve a long career, you’ll have ups and downs. I’ve come into camp. All the lads were great.

“I knew I’d have a massive game coming up on Saturday. I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I had a job on my hands and that’s what I wanted to do for my country. Club football and international football are different things. I’m concentrating on international football at this time,” added Collins, who explained his interaction with Grealish.

“Just after the game, I was outside the dressing-room talking to someone and I saw him. I spoke to him and said ‘listen, in the tackle I didn’t mean to go for you, I went for the ball and meant nothing by it’.

“He said ‘yes, it’s not a problem, I didn’t think you did’. It was sound and we just chatted out, nothing serious and we were both on good terms,” added Collins, who looked at ease in his media duties for Ireland yesterday, as would be expected from someone who captained Stoke City at 19. “Going to Wolves has been so easy with the staff there and the players have made it really easy. Taking responsibility is something that I’ve always had in myself. To take it on and to be that person who takes on responsibility. So I don’t have a problem doing that. I don’t have a problem in leading a side. I want to be challenged and it’s another challenge and another thing to add to my game if I can.”

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