Collins targets League Cup final return


James Collins is targeting a second Carabao Cup final appearance after inspiring West Ham United to a second-round victory at Cheltenham Town.

The veteran centre-half was recalled to the starting XI at Whaddon Road, enabling him to celebrate his 34th birthday and 200th Hammers appearance with a clean sheet, a win and a deserved Sky Sports Man of the Match award.

And Collins, who was a runner-up for Aston Villa against Manchester United in 2010, would love to return to Wembley for a second crack at lifting the trophy.

“I’ve played in the League Cup final a few years ago and it’s a great competition to be in,” he said. "With the squad we’ve got now, it’s a great chance for the lads to come in and perform

“It’s not like we’re playing lads who are not experienced, so if the gaffer does want to make changes, we can hopefully play an experienced squad all the way through. Hopefully we can go a long way.

“You’ve got to have a right go at it. Obviously you want to win every game you play, but this is a good tournament for our team and our squad. It gives a chance for the lads to play and it’s a day out at Wembley, which everyone enjoys.”


James Collins in action in Aston Villa's 2010 League Cup final defeat by Manchester United


After conceding seven goals in their opening two Premier League fixtures, Collins’ return helped the Hammers to keep their first clean sheet of the season, with the Welshman using his experience to shackle a determined and direct Cheltenham attack.

“We knew we had to come here and do the basics, defend well and defend crosses well and we got our goals and the quality showed in the end,” he observed. “We got our goals and probably should have seen the game out a bit better at the end, but it’s job done and into the next round.

“I said it before the game that it doesn’t matter who it is against, a clean sheet is good for confidence. Getting the basics right is vital to win any game of football and we need to get back to that to win games in the Premier League.”

I said it before the game that it doesn’t matter who it is against, a clean sheet is good for confidence

James Collins

Next up in the Premier League is a trip to Newcastle United – who were knocked out by Nottingham Forest on Wednesday – this weekend. Unsurprisingly, Collins is eyeing a recall after missing last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Southampton.

“I’d love to play. I’ll be involved. I watched the game at the weekend and was obviously just as disappointed as everyone else, so as soon as I’m needed to come in and help out or I get my chance, I’ll be raring to go.

“Wednesday night was big and a few of the boys probably don’t realise how big it was. I’ve been around the game a long time and a result like that can get the momentum going, and hopefully it can do that.

“We can go to Newcastle and if we can stop the individual errors, with Chicha, Andy and Diafra we can score goals and win games.”