Sheffield United: Neill Collins’s Pledge

Comeback: Collins, centre, prepares to make his return at Reading
Comeback: Collins, centre, prepares to make his return at Reading

NEILL Collins has reassured supporters that Sheffield United’s players will do everything within their power to put the club’s season back on track.

Collins, United’s vastly experienced centre-half, made a surprise return to action at Reading last weekend only a month after suffering a serious facial injury during Boxing Day’s victory over Scunthorpe.

Since that result, which saw Shaun Miller, Dave Kitson and Nick Blackman score during a resounding 3-0 success, United have slipped from first to sixth in the League One table with manager Danny Wilson citing Collins’ absence as a major factor behind their disappointing form.

“I know people are going to be frustrated,” the defender said. “But, really, nobody is more frustrated than us.

“We’ll all be giving everything, doing whatever we can, to get back to the way we were and we’ve got the people here to do that.

“We know things haven’t been going as well as anyone would have liked but that happens at times. It doesn’t mean you have to like it or not be bothered about it but it does.

“So it’s how you react and we’re all working hard to make sure we get back to where we want to be.”

With Matt Hill also confined to the treatment room with a broken jaw, a rearguard which had previously been breached only 24 times in 29 outings has conceded an average of two goals per game since the turn of the year.

However Wilson, speaking after Collins, wearing a protective face mask, emerged from the bench during the closing stages of United’s FA Cup defeat at the Madejski Stadium, predicted the Scot’s “character” and “leadership” qualities would help restore confidence ahead of Friday’s encounter with a resurgent Coventry City.

Should Collins be deemed fit enough to start against Mark Robins’ side, recent signing Danny Higginbotham could be deployed at full-back.

City are seventh following their 2-2 draw with Preston North End; a match which prompted Steven Jennings to complain about “tractor marks” on the Deepdale pitch and the hosts’ robust tactics.

“I think their manager basically said to them at half time ‘go and give what you can to stop them’ because I have seen every trick in the book out there,” the City midfielder said. “Whether it is pulling someone back, smacking someone in the face, blocking someone while they are not even on the pitch; it was everything.

“It’s certainly not football, playing teams like that, it’s more of a rugby match at times.”

Collins, who recently penned a contract extension with United, featured in the team which drew 1-1 at the Ricoh Arena earlier this term.

“It’s not really for me to talk about what I might or might not bring to the side,” he said. “I’ll let other people do that because we’re all part of a team.

“Watching the lads has been torture because I hate not taking part and want to be out there.

“The doctors told me it would be a minimum of four weeks before I’d be ready and so I’m pleased to be back in the minimum about of time but I’ve always been a quick healer.”