Collison so happy to be back
WALES v AUSTRIA (tonight, KO 7.45)
RETURNING Wales star Jack Collison admits he has felt helpless after enduring a nightmare start to life as a Premier League man, writes Michael Pearlman.
The Gwent-linked midfielder was instrumental in helping club side West Ham to the Premier League, scoring twice to down Cardiff City at the playoff semi-final stage.
However, he’s been a virtual spectator since, once again sidelined by injury and missing more than four months of the season.
“It’s been great to be back out on the pitch because it’s been a bit of a long time once again,” said the player who qualifies for Wales through a Gwent grandparent.
“Obviously, it’s been frustrating after playing virtually the whole of last season and then watching the boys play in the Premier League week-in, week-out against the best teams.
“It’s good to be back and I’ve had some good games since then, like scoring at Arsenal.
“I’m looking to build on those now and prove myself again, while also helping us to pick up some points as a team.”
Collison admits he feels like a stranger to the international scene, especially considering the upheaval following the loss of former boss Gary Speed.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing for Wales but due to injury and other reasons I haven’t played as many games as I would have liked,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ll be involved this time and it will give me the opportunity to pull the red shirt on and have a go.
“It’s been massively difficult with Gary passing. You could see by the way the lads played that they took to him and it wasn’t an accident – they respected him and wanted to do well for him as their boss.
“It’s a great shame and it’s up to the boys in the squad now to try and take Welsh football on.
“The boys seem to like Chris Coleman so hopefully we can go forward and, sooner rather than later, qualify for a major tournament.
“We’ve made a bit of a disappointing start to the World Cup qualifiers but you can never say never because stranger things have happened.
“With the quality in our squad, there is no reason why we cannot string a few wins together.”
Life has changed for Collison with the birth of his first child, daughter Lucia.
“It’s great. It’s a totally different experience but it’s one I’m really enjoying. She is great and we’ve been quite lucky because she doesn’t cry too much. I still manage to get my sleep!”