MICHAEL COLLINS goes into tomorrow’s home clash against Hartlepool with manager Lee Clark beaming: “He’s right on top of his game.”
Midfielder Collins has helped Town conjure 20 goals in their last four home outings and has more Galpharm points on the agenda as the team chase a fifth successive win for the first time since March 2005 (3.00).
Clark predicts Collins can help push Town to a higher level and, in the process, rekindle his international prospects with the Republic of Ireland, who he captained at Under 21 level.
“I’ve got massive belief in Michael because he’s a top-quality professional, a superb young man and a very good footballer,” said the boss, likely to name an unchanged line-up for the sixth successive match.
“He scores goals, makes goals and since he came back into the team he’s been back on his game and playing at a totally consistent level.
“Michael can go higher, of course he can, because there is lots of room for improvement. The great thing is Michael feels the same way.
“If we can get his left foot stronger he can be more expansive in his passing range, so that’s one thing we are working on, but as a central midfielder in the modern game, some of his runs are exceptional and he rarely misses when he gets a chance on goal.”
Clark reckons the 23-year-old will better his goal tally of nine from last season and added: “He never stops working, does extra training and always wants to learn.
“He’s very good going forward, but Michael is also starting to understand and appreciate the defensive side of the game and we are seeing a progression in that as well.
“Any player should set his sights as high as possible and Michael is no different. Obviously, if he were competing against teams at a higher level on a regular basis then he’d have a better chance of getting recognition for his international team, so that has to be the target.”