MICHAEL COLLINS is back on the Republic of Ireland Under 21 scene – and James Berrett could yet get the call as well.
After six months without involvement, twice-capped Town midfielder Collins is in the squad for the Intercontinental Cup in Malaysia.
Berrett, who is a regular in the Republic’s Under 19 side, is on stand-by, and will step in if two or more members of the 20-strong squad are forced to drop out through injury.
The tournament runs from May 12-25, extending Collins’ season beyond Town’s final League I game at Luton on Saturday.
But that won’t bother the Halifax-based player, who turns 22 tomorrow and will consider his inclusion in coach Don Givens’ plans as an early birthday present.
For Berrett, the chance of involvement rounds off a big four months, during which he’s staked his claim for a new contract with a string of impressive displays since making his full debut in the 2-1 FA Cup third round win over Premier League Birmingham.
Collins had a spell out of the Town starting XI under previous manager Andy Ritchie, but has bounced back since Christmas, catching the eye with his consistency.
His previous caps came in the 2-2 friendly draw with Germany in Furth in August and 2-0 European Championship defeat by Portugal in Cork in September.
He made the squad for the Championship clash with England back in Cork in October, but remained on the bench during the 3-0 defeat.
In Malaysia, the Republic have three group games, against Iraq on May 15, the hosts on May 17 and Nigeria on May 19.
The top two in the group progress to the semi-finals.
Collins’ Town teammate Phil Jevons made his return after a calf injury as the reserves beat Leicester 3-0 in their final Pontin’s Holidays League Central Division match of the campaign at the Galpharm last night.
The striker figured for 75 minutes of a match settled by goals from Lucas Akins, Tom Clarke and Luke Malcher.
Town’s League I rivals Bristol Rovers have agreed a two-season groundshare with Cheltenham while their own Memorial Ground is redeveloped.
Whaddon Road, which holds 7,136, is 40 miles away.