Sheffield United: ‘Collo’ can’t wait to hit the ground running next term

Neill Collins
Neill Collins
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Just 98 days separate Sheffield United’s last game of the season against Coventry, and the beginning of the 2014/15 term.

And for Bramall Lane defender Neill Collins, the new season’s opening day of Saturday, August 9 cannot come quick enough.

Collins, speaking after United’s faint play-off hopes were extinguished after Monday’s stalemate at Tranmere Rovers, admitted: “It was always a tough ask for us to get into the play-offs, but just for us to be even mentioning it is a great achievement, considering where we were not long ago.

“We can take a lot of positives; the biggest one for me is that we already cannot wait for next season to start.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for a rest! But the players and the fans have a new-found determination to get to the end of next season with some success behind us - hopefully, a promotion.”

The Scot, who is once again expected to anchor United’s defence alongside Harry Maguire when United travel to Port Vale tomorrow evening, has made 53 appearances in an up-and-down campaign, which has seen United transformed from genuine relegation candidates to outside promotion contenders.

United boss Nigel Clough also led his charges to an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, and Collins said: “We can use that to our advantage, as well as our ten-match winning run.

“We look back at the FA Cup with disappointment because of the really good chance we had to make the final, but I also think it could be the start of something big here. Everyone is determined to make it happen next season; the players have a togetherness, the management have put things in place and the fans are really behind us, too.

“Everything bodes well for next season. It’ll be a fresh start again - but we want more days like we had at Wembley, so we’ve got to start next season like a house on fire.”

Before then, however, United fulfil their 2013/14 away commitments at Vale Park tomorrow and Oldham next Tuesday, before their final home game of the season against Coventry on May 3.

Vale - led by former Bramall Lane chief, and boyhood Blade Micky Adams - are level on points with United in the League One standings, and sit a place below on goal difference.

Clough, who could bring back captain Michael Doyle, Stefan Scougall and Jose Baxter, is determined to field his strongest possible side in each of United’s last three games and Collins added: “The play-offs have gone, but we have to look to finish as high as possible and seventh place is achievable.

“We are carrying a couple of injuries and we have a very small squad, but we have to keep going and try and win as many as we possibly can.”