Luton Town will surely be pleased with the way they have started the 2019/20 campaign.
There are likely few teams with a smaller budget in the division but the Hatters have made a solid start to life in the Championship and sit 15th, despite losing some of their key players in the summer.
Full-back duo James Justin and Jack Stacey were phenomenal last season, with the pair earning places in the EFL League One Team of the Season, but both departed for Premier League clubs in the transfer window.
One key man that didn’t leave and has been integral to Luton’s positive start is James Collins. The striker scored 45 goals across his two previous seasons as a Hatter and has made a fast start to Championship life, scoring three times in six appearances.
That form has not gone unnoticed and the 28-year-old was called up to the Republic of Ireland squad over the international break, receiving his debut against Bulgaria on Tuesday.
We put a spotlight on his performance to see how well he took to the international stage.
Collins was an unused substitute for Ireland’s qualifier against Switzerland last Thursday but came off the bench to great effect against Bulgaria. The striker replaced Scott Hogan on the hour-mark and featured for 33 minutes in his debut.
Collins has been lethal in the lower leagues of English football for the past few years, scoring more than 20 goals in the last three seasons, and he found the net at the first time of asking on the international stage.
The Luton striker latched onto Enda Stevens’ first-time cross to score a dream goal on debut in the 86th minute. The 28-year-old showed just how clinical a forward he is as he finished with 100% shot accuracy and scored with the only shot he took.
That is not to say that he was absent from the game, however. Collins did a lot of running and was busy in around the box, making himself a nuisance to the Bulgarian backline. That is reflected by the Irishman’s three touches in the opposition box and eight received passes during his 33 minutes on the pitch.
Collins also interlinked with his teammates well, providing one shot assist and finishing the game with a 67% pass accuracy, having connected with six of his nine passes.
The goal on debut is great news for Luton as it should boost the forward’s confidence ahead of his return to the club.
At this current rate, the striker is on course for another high-scoring season and you have to think if he can repeat the sort of production he has shown over the past few years it would be a huge step toward survival for the Hatters.