MICHAEL COLLINS believes that as far as Town are concerned, reaching the League I play-offs is all in the mind.
The one-club midfielder who is closing in on the 200-game milestone is confident he and his teammates have the beating of all eight opponents between today’s match at Wycombe Wanderers and the final game of the regular season at Exeter City on Saturday, May 8.
That’s why he considers self-belief so crucial in the bid to extend the campaign to a Wembley showdown on Saturday, May 29.
“We’re a close-knit group and we’ve talked about what lies ahead,” said the Halifax-born academy product who will turn 24 at the end of this month.
“To put it bluntly, we need to give it a really good go so at the end of the season, we can turn round and say we did it for each other and that nobody let anyone else down.
“I’m pretty sure that if we do that, then we’ll be where we want to be, because other than Norwich, who have beaten us twice and are flying at the top of the table, we can match any side in this division when we play as we can.”
Collins, who will be making his 170th league appearance and 193rd in all if selected against Wycombe, includes Town’s supporters in his “stick together” mantra.
“It’s been said before, but it’s well worth saying again – they can be our 12th man,” he added.
“They’ve been brilliant all the time I’ve been at this club, and we’d love to reward them by getting into the Championship.
“I know there have been times when we’ve left them frustrated this season, but believe me, we’ve been frustrated as well.”
Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with promotion rivals Charlton Athletic was a case in point and Collins continued: “I couldn’t honestly say we dominated massive parts of the game, but we were always equal to them and at times, we showed we are stronger than them.
“We managed to get ourselves in front (through Jordan Rhodes’ 53rd-minute goal and that should have been a stage where we started to nail things down and turn the performance into a solid one which brought three points.
“But within five minutes, they’d hit back (through on-loan Sheffield United midfielder Kyel Reid) were we’d lost the momentum which had been built.
“We managed to get back on top towards the end and could have won it, and I thought I had done with a late shot which I just tried to lash across the face of the goal, but their keeper (Darren Randolph) pulled off a great save.
“Luckily, other results limited the damage, and on the plus side, at least we picked up a point which could rove to be the crucial one come the end of the season.”
Collins accepts Town struggled to hit a high tempo early on, explaining: “They set up with their two central midfielders (Jose Semedo and Therry Racon) sitting deep.
“They had two rigid units of four which is always hard to break down, and their two frontmen (Nicky Forster and David Mooney) worked hard to keep the pressure on our centre-backs.
“We ended up knocking a few too many long balls, and because their midfield was so deep, they were picking up a lot of seconds.
“At half-time, the manager asked us to push up more, which we did, and if we’d managed to sit on our lead, that would have forced them to come more out of their shell and so opened up more gaps.
“It was all very frustrating, but as I said, at least we got a point, and because we still have Colchester, currently our closest rivals, still to play (at the Galpharm on Saturday, May 1), a win today will keep things in our own hands.”
With Town not having played at Adams Park since 2002-03, it’s a first visit for Collins, who made his debut in the 1-0 home win over Blackpool in League I two seasons later.
And he’s expecting a tough test, explaining: “We’ve discussed their strengths and weaknesses and seen film of their recent games.
“We know we’ll have to fight for the right to play our football, and as an individual, it’s about doing your own job properly and ensuring you get the better of your opposite number.
“If eight or nine, or hopefully 11 lads all do that, then we’ll win the match, and three points would be a great boost for us as we prepare for Oldham visiting us on Tuesday.”