Cobblers loan signing Collins is not a Richards replacement, says Wilder

James Collins pictured in action for Shrewsbury during their 1-1 draw against the Cobblers at Sixfields in August, 2014
James Collins pictured in action for Shrewsbury during their 1-1 draw against the Cobblers at Sixfields in August, 2014

Boss Chris Wilder believes he has added significant strength to the Cobblers attacking unit with the signing of Shrewsbury Town’s James Collins.

The 25-year-old was unveiled as a Cobblers player on Tuesday after completing the paperwork on a loan deal that will see him stay at Sixfields until the end of the season.

The announcement came just hours after the news that Dominic Calvert-Lewin had been allowed to return to Sheffield United, and although Wilder is hugely appreciative of the job the teenager did for him and his team in the first five months of the season, he believes that in Collins he has gained a little bit extra.

A little bit of extra strength, a little bit of extra experience, and extra attacking options.

And Wilder also made it clear that Collins has been brought in to team up and complement 15-goal leading scorer Marc Richards, not replace the 32-year-old.

The signing of proven scorer Collins means the Cobblers have a set of attacking players that will the envy of most, if not all of the clubs in Sky Bet League Two.

A stable of Richards, Collins, Ricky Holmes, Alfie Potter, Nicky Adams, Lawson D’Ath and Sam Hoskins is a pretty potent one.

“James is a good footballer, he can link things up, he has strength, he can run down the sides and is generally a really good player,” said Wilder.

“I have known a lot about him ever since he was at Villa as a kid, through his spells at Burton and Swindon, where he did really well, and at Shrewsbury.

“He is a good player for this and the above level, and he adds to the players we have at the top of the pitch.

“We wanted some strength, we wanted some experience, and we wanted some permutations right the way through.

“Whether we play two targets, one up and one down the side, or three up front, you have to have options and you can’t have enough good players at the top of the pitch.

“We feel that we have added to the squad with a really good signing.”

Wilder is well aware the Cobblers’ charge towards an unlikely play-off place in the second half of last season was curtailed by an Achilles injury to Richards, who had scored 17 of his 18 goals for the season by the time he suffered the injury at the beginning of March.

Richards’ absence was sorely felt as the goals dried up and Town’s bid for a top-seven finish hit the buffers, and Wilder admits that the signing of Collins is in part to insure against that happening to the team again.

“You have to have a look at that,” admitted the Cobblers boss. “Rico has had a great first half to the season, but anything can happen in football.

“Touch wood Rico stays fit and leads the line for us, and James is not coming into replace.

“We just need options, and bringing James in is a really good one for us.”

Wilder was also quick to praise the support he received from chairman Kelvin Thomas in getting the Collins deal done.

“I worked really closely with the chairman,” said Wilder.

“He knows the importance of this period going into the last 20-odd games, that we need to strengthen and we have done that.

“I am grateful for his backing, we have worked very hard to get this deal done, and we are absolutely delighted that we have got it over the line.”