Collins wants West Ham place back as he targets Euro 2016

Date published: Sunday 20th December 2015 12:46

James Collins: Hoping to return to first-team action

James Collins is targeting a run in the West Ham side to aid his chances of featuring for Wales at Euro 2016.

The 32-year-old defender has been limited to just nine appearances for the Hammers this season as manager Slaven Bilic prefers other options at centre-back.

With Winston Reid, James Tomkins and new recruit Angelo Ogbonna seemingly ahead of Collins in the pecking order at Upton Park, the former Cardiff and Aston Villa man could be forced to look for a move in January.

Collins played one of Wales’ 10 European Championship qualifiers and knows he must play for his club if he is to be involved at the finals in France having made his first appearance in over a month in last weekend’s draw against Stoke.

“I will have to do that to go to the Euros,” he said when asked about playing more regularly for West Ham.

“Obviously Ashley Williams is in there and playing really well. I haven’t played in the last few games so to get into that Wales team my club form is going to be massive.

“It is a major thing on my head to keep fit and keep my place in the West Ham team and eventually play in the Euros. Wales have a tremendous squad now.

“Years ago you would have expected to get into that team even if you weren’t playing regular club football, but the Wales squad now is the best I have ever been involved with. So I really have to play well regularly for West Ham so I can go to France with them in the summer.”

Being drawn alongside England, with Russia and Slovakia also in Group B, the prospect of a home nation international is something that Collins admits has already whetted the appetite of his compatriots.

“It was destined to be and it’s a massive game,” he said.

“I am getting asked for tickets already so that’s going to be fun leading up to the game.

“It’s massive. Qualifying for the Euros with Wales is probably the biggest achievement of my career, being part of a squad which has qualified for the first time in 50 years, so getting into the team is very important for me.”

The first chance for Collins to cement a more permanent place in Slaven Bilic’s side comes with Sunday’s trip to Swansea.

Having come through the ranks at Cardiff, a team he also supports, Collins knows he will be in for a tough afternoon at the Liberty Stadium,.

“I get some stick down there which is understandable,” he said.

“Obviously as a Cardiff fan I don’t want Swansea to do too well. I speak a lot to Ash (Williams). I spoke to him this week and obviously there is a bit of turmoil down there with the manager being sacked.

“There is obviously massive rivalry and it’s a great game to play in. I think it was a bit harsh Garry Monk getting the sack because he had done a good job down there. But after all the Swansea players are footballers and they will be up for any game.”

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