It's been a whirlwind couple of years for James Collins. He only joined Luton Town in the summer of 2017 when the club was in League Two, but he would play a major part in their promotion that season.
Collins wouldn't spend too long in the third tier of English football either. He would finish as top scorer in the division on 25 goals, as his team earned back-to-back promotions. He has made a fast start to life in the Championship, scoring three goals already this season.
Now he is set to make his international debut for the Republic of Ireland.
The 28-year old earned 12 caps at U21 level at the turn of the decade, but had been well off the radar at senior level. That has quickly changed however, with his record of 47 goals in 92 Luton appearances too difficult to ignore.
Collins was called up to the squad for this international window as a replacement for the injured Sean Maguire, beating out competition from the likes of Shane Long.
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) September 8, 2019
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, he revealed that all of his family were travelling over from the UK in anticipation of his possible debut against Bulgaria on Tuesday. He also said that his call-up to the squad ahead of the Southampton striker was a big boost to his confidence:
It’s a confidence booster to be picked ahead of Shane. Shane has done far more than me in his club and Ireland career.
Mick didn’t bring me in if he didn’t think about giving me the chance of being involved.
With the game being a friendly, it’s a massive opportunity for players who’ve not got minutes to play. We still want to win the game.
It’s down to me to impress the gaffer if I get my debut.
With the backup striker spot behind David McGoldrick currently up for grabs, a big performance against Bulgaria would be a boost for Collins. Scott Hogan currently claims that role, but he is finding playing time difficult to come by at Stoke City.
Should he establish himself at international level, it would cap a remarkable rise for a player who was released by Shrewsbury Town only three years ago.