Collison closing on first team

Jack Collison is focused on making another breakthrough to the first team sooner rather than later.

The 19-year-old midfielder found himself unexpectedly on the bench last Saturday against Birmingham City when substitute Mark Noble was a late withdrawal as a precaution with a tight hamstring. Collison, who made his senior debut on New Year's Day at Arsenal, had little time to prepare but he was grateful to be given the experience by Alan Curbishley.

"It is very good to be in and around it," the Welsh Under-21 international, who has now scored two goals in three games for his country this season, told WHUTV. "Nobes pulled out with a tight hamstring and I found out I was on the bench maybe 15 minutes before the game. I was absolutely buzzing and just hoping to get on the pitch, but unfortunately I didn't."

Collison was also delighted with the reception he got when warming up in front of the Boleyn Ground faithful during the contest. "A couple more people are getting to know me," he said. "Obviously I just want to get in the team and try and do my bit." Collison did his chances no harm at all with a fine goal for the reserves on Tuesday night as he captained Kevin Keen's men to a 4-1 victory, also against Birmingham.

Also impressive were the likes of James Tomkins and Kyel Reid, along with younger talents like Jordan Spence, Bondz 'Gala and Junior Stanislas. "A lot of the boys are a similar age to me," Collison said. "We are also trying to catch the eye and force our way into the team, even if it is only on the bench or getting some minutes on the pitch."

Collison will again lead the reserves out against Fulham at Bishop's Stortford on Wednesday - hoping to catch the manager's eye for when the two teams meet again for a top-flight contest at Craven Cottage on Saturday week. "I am really trying to do my best to force my way in. It is hard because the boys are performing really well - especially Hayden [Mullins] and Nobes in midfield, they have been superb. I have just got to wait my chance and keep doing what I am doing."

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