Ex-Sheffield United, Sunderland, Wolves and Preston man sacked by League One club amid play-off desperation

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Barnsley have decided to part company with a former Sheffield United defender.

Former Sheffield United man Neil Collins has been sacked by Barnsley despite having his side in the League One play-off places with just one game remaining.

Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Blackpool was a fourth in five games for Barnsley, who have only taken nine points from their last 11 games. The South Yorkshire side looked set for a place in the League One play-offs but now sit just one point above Lincoln City and Oxford United, in sixth and seventh respectively.

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The Tykes host 14th-placed Northampton Town at Oakwell on Saturday, with victory looking necessary in their final game to secure that spot in the play-offs. And with just days left to prepare, those in charge at the club have taken the drastic decision to remove Collins.

A club statement read: “Collins was appointed last summer and despite several positive spells throughout the season, recent results have left the board of directors feeling that a change is needed. We would like to thank Neill for his efforts during his time at the Club.”

Director of Football, Mladen Sormaz, said: “Neill has been extremely professional throughout the period with which I have worked with him. He has done everything he can do to push the team in the direction we all want Barnsley to go. He has conducted himself with professionalism and commitment throughout the period I have worked with him.

“However, with a crucial season conclusion ahead of us, we feel that now is the right time to make a change. We thank the fans for their continued support and urge you all to back the team this Saturday against Northampton. We will update supporters in the coming days.”

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Collins enjoyed a journeyman career as a player and had a decent spell at Sheffield United, playing 214 times across all competitions between the Championship and League One. The experienced centre-back was signed by Micky Adams in January 2011 and featured regularly, although he was unable to lift his side away from relegation.

In League One, he formed a solid partnership with current Manchester United man Harry Maguire and spent three seasons as a regular starter in the third-tier. Minutes dwindled amid a loan move to League One Port Vale before Collins had his contract terminated by mutual consent to join Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2016.