Republic of Ireland defender Nathan Collins' role at home club Burnley could be about to become more fruitful.
It's been a milestone month of October for Leixlip man Collins. Saturday the 2nd saw the 20-year-old play in his first Premier League game against Norwich.
Collins was drafted in as cover for the injured Ben Mee, who appears to be out for their upcoming fixture away to Manchester City.
A little over ten days later, he was used as a substitute in the Republic of Ireland's 4-0 drubbing of Qatar. Collins represented the national side at underage level.
Congratulations to Nathan Collins on his international debut tonight for @FAIreland. A proud night for Nath and his family, and a new name for our club historian to add to the international honours board at Turf Moor! ☘️ pic.twitter.com/yskDIdBhoX
— Alan Pace (@AlanPaceBFC) October 12, 2021
Sean Dyche has named him frequently on the bench as cover for the Ben Mee/James Tarkowksi partnership that has become a stalwart in the heart of Burnley's defense.
But Andy Jones, writer for The Athletic, recently made the case to see more game time for Collins. He's featured three times this season in all competitions for Burnley.
In an article entitled "Which player at your club should be getting more minutes?", Jones made the case that Dyche shouldn't be hesitant in giving Collins the nod.
The latest opportunity was presented to summer signing Nathan Collins against Norwich after Ben Mee picked up a late ankle injury. He performed well and was one of the positives on a disappointing afternoon, keeping a clean sheet alongside James Tarkowski.
The Mee-Tarkowski partnership has been so important to Burnley’s Premier League survival that it has been impossible to break, except for injuries. Sean Dyche has been allowing Collins, 20, to settle as he begins to mould him into the Premier League defender he thinks he can be, ready for when Tarkowski departs at the end of his deal in the summer. Long term, the more league minutes he gets under his belt, the easier the step up will be when he takes on more responsibility. There is only so much learning that can be done on the training pitch.
Breaking up the Mee/Tarkowski defensive line is a bold move, especially when there's no signs of either slowing down.
But it appears to be James Tarkowski's contract situation that's making the case to see Collins play more so he's well acquainted when he does have to make the step up.
Tarkowski, 28, is reportedly a target for Newcastle under their new Saudi ownership, who could bring some stability to their back line.
Nathan Collins (20, CB) today for Burnley Vs Norwich 🇮🇪⚽️🙌
⏱ 90 minutes played
👊 One clean sheet
📊 78% pass success rate
🎯 Three accurate long balls
⚔ Six duals won
Great start to Premier League life 🍀#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/0x20CmvEqx
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) October 2, 2021
Due to become a free agent in the summer, the twice capped England international could go as soon as January if a new contract isn't worked out.
That would pave the way for Collins to make his way into the first-team, but at 20-years-old, he should be gifted plenty of time to adjust to life in the top flight.
Dyche spoke about Collins at a press conference on Thursday ahead of the Manchester City clash:
His manner around the training ground and his professionalism is excellent, the character he is and way he goes about this training, he's made a decent start in the cup game and was good against Norwich.
It looks likely the 20-year-old will be on the Burnley starting team sheet come Saturday, as they look to lift themselves out of relegation.
It's worth noting that Irishman Kevin Long is still on the books at Burnley but hasn't featured this season yet for the first-team.