Collins ‘gobsmacked’ by loan pair

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SHEFFIELD United defender Neill Collins last night admitted he was “gobsmacked” when Matt Phillips and Billy Clarke arrived at Bramall Lane.

The Blackpool duo have both proved a huge success since moving to South Yorkshire on short-term loans a fortnight ago.

Although United’s campaign to keep the pair looks set to end in disappointment following Ian Holloway’s revelation that he wants them back at Bloomfield Road for next month’s Championship clash with Middlesbrough - “I just wanted them to go and play” - Wilson is expected to press ahead with his efforts to extend their deals beyond the JP Trophy tie with Bradford City on November 8.

Collins said: “I was gobsmacked that we managed to attract them but it shows people still want to come here even though we’re in League One.

“Why was I so surprised? As a neutral I’ve always thought they were really good players and they’ve both shown they’ve got quality that’s above this division.

“They’ve given everyone a boost and nobody’s nose has got put out of joint because they can see these boys have got the right attitude.

“I think they’re thriving on the atmosphere here.”

With Phillips scoring three goals in four appearances and Clarke claiming five assists, United supporters have urged Wilson to try and sign them on a permanent basis.

But Holloway, his counterpart in Lancashire, said: “They (United) have got two hopes of that and one of them is ‘Bob.’ But I am delighted with how they are playing over there. It was exactly the idea to get them sharp and then back here ready to go straight in our team. That was all I wanted and I didn’t care at which level they played.

“I just wanted them to go and play because that’s exactly what they needed.”

Wilson, speaking ahead of today’s visit of Exeter City, acknowledged results at Blackpool will dictate whether Phillips and Clarke are allowed to stay.

Having spent the summer on duty with England under-20s, Phillips seems almost certain to leave United when his temporary contract expires.

But after recently battling his way back from serious injury, Holloway could decide to let Clarke stay put to improve his fitness.

Collins said: “Some people have come on loan here in the past and it hasn’t always worked-out. But it’s great the the manager has been able to bring in people who have.”