Sheffield United: Collins means business

Priceless points: Neill Collins says winning is all United should care about as they prepare to face Crawley at Bramall Lane  tonight
Priceless points: Neill Collins says winning is all United should care about as they prepare to face Crawley at Bramall Lane tonight
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A performance would be pleasing.

But, from Sheffield United’s perspective, tonight’s game against Crawley Town boils down purely to the result.

Win and Danny Wilson’s side will travel to Shrewsbury Town this weekend with their sights once again fixed on League One’s automatic promotion places.

Lose or draw and the anxiety surrounding Bramall Lane will crank-up yet another notch.

“Three points, however we get it, is the most important thing,” Neill Collins admitted yesterday. “Anyone can sit on a radio station and talk about how to get back on track.

“What we have to do is go out there and actually do it on the pitch.

“The only way we can convince people we mean business is by winning games. Not talking about it.

“That’s best way. Beating the opposition.”

Collins’ return from injury - the central defender fractured his cheekbone during December’s victory over Scunthorpe - is timely as United look to arrest a run of form which has seen them drop from first to sixth in as many weeks.

Indeed, speaking during the club’s pre-match media briefing at Shirecliffe, Collins confronted the issue with a tenacity and fortitude its first-team squad have been accused of lacking in his absence.

“We all know what it takes,” he continued. “But we’ll keep that ‘in-house.’

“We hit a bad patch when we got a few injuries but that’s just one factor.

“In football, as in life, there are times when you go through a bad patch.

“The manager and the staff give us plenty of confidence.

“But we’ve got to keep working hard and sticking together.

“As Gary Player once said: ‘The harder I work the luckier I seem to get.’”

Born and bred in the golfing Mecca of Troon, it was no surprise to hear Collins describe Player as United’s perfect role model following a testing sequence of results which culminated in Friday’s 2-1 defeat by Coventry City.

Having overcome a woeful start, Wilson’s charges appeared destined to enjoy some much-needed success when Dave Kitson dragged them back on level terms only for Leon Clarke’s late effort to ensure an impressive second-half display went unrewarded.

Nevertheless, surveying United’s acquisitions during the recent transfer window, Collins insisted they are well-equipped to instigate a change in fortune.

“Danny Higginbotham has come in and he’s got great pedigree,” Collins said. “He’s great in the dressing room too.

“Jamie (Murphy) we’ll see the best of soon, I feel a wee bit sorry for him because we were top of the table when he was negotiating his move and it’s not gone great since but I’ve promised him we’ll be back up there soon.

“If we’d have been doing better then his transition would have been seamless but we’ll see the best of him soon because, make no mistake, he was one of the best young players up there in Scotland.”

Collins’ compatriot Barry Robson, previously of Middlesbrough and Celtic, also arrived at United on deadline day while Southampton’s Jonathan Forte returned to him home-town club on loan.

“Jonathan’s contributed really well, especially with his pace, and is going to do well” Collins added. “Barry is just a fantastic player full stop.

“People will talk about his experience but forget about all that.

“His touch, vision and ability is just superb on its own. The experience is a bonus.”

*Twitter: JamesShield1