Collins takes heart from performance, despite defeat

James Collins described his team as a “joy to watch” at times against Sunderland on Monday, so was doubly disappointed their efforts went unrewarded.

His under-23s team, which featured Fabio Silva getting minutes up front, impressed against the Black Cats, but were left to rue uncharacteristically sloppy defending, which Sunderland punished. However, Collins piled praise on his team, and the application of Silva, as the youngsters continued to make strides forward in terms of performances.

On positives in the performances

“It’s always disappointing to lose games. What I did think was the performance we put on was probably better than three or four of the last performances. I thought we were excellent with the ball, I thought our combination play, first-half especially, was a joy to watch at times. I said to them in there that I enjoyed watching them play, but what you can’t do it give soft goals away.

“You can’t expect to score three goals every week to win football matches and win leagues and promotions. We’re not kidding ourselves, two soft goals are what cost us, but I thought with the ball, our possession, our control, our football, I thought we looked like we had some good players out there on the pitch and that’s what it’s about.”

On a harsh scoreline

“The third goal, I’m not saying it doesn’t count, but we’ve got our goalkeeper forward for the corner, we just wanted to see if we could get one late on, maybe what we thought we deserved, then they broke and it was harsh. The loss is the disappointing thing, not so much the scoreline, the first two goals were really poor from us to concede.

“Straight after half-time the backline dropped when I thought we needed to stay strong and attack, so the boy brought it down on the halfway line, we were open, they got a bit of luck with the deflection, but he took it well, then they had something to hand on to.

“First-half, I thought we had them on the rocks, we started the second-half and nearly got one with Fabio, and I genuinely thought we’d go on and win the game. Then you give them a goal and they’ve got something to hand on to, and they worked really hard, credit to them.”

On what was missing

“We lacked maybe that bit of luck, but also it can’t all be luck, someone needs to provide that special moment to finish. Chem had a wonderful run first-half and should have scored at the end, the run was magnificent, Fabio had a couple of opportunities, scored a really good goal. Loads of positives, it’s hard not to be disappointed when you lose games of football, but I’m delighted with the performance.”

On Silva gaining minutes

“He needs to get football, the manager’s aware of that, and Fabio’s aware of that. He probably felt rusty when he played for the first-team against Tottenham last week. It shows the maturity to think he needs football, some rhythm, some games, the manager agreed.

“I was going to give him an hour and see how he was, that was the instruction, and he wanted to stay on, to play. I thought he worked hard, his runs were good, he looked dangerous, I thought he looked like a good player. He needs to get some rhythm, hopefully he can get that with us, and the first-team will see that.”

On a busy seven days ahead

“Obviously, with the first-team squad playing at the weekend, the Friday games test us a little bit more because I don’t know who’ll be in the squad, Cundle, Chem, so we’ll probably be a little bit younger Friday and it’s always a tough game at Villa, so that’ll be a real challenge.

“This season so far, we’ve seemed to rise to those sorts of challenges, and the game on Tuesday against Shrewsbury’s first-team, that competition is a real challenge for our young players. We had a great result at Wigan but had to work really hard for it and we’re going to have to do the same at Shrewsbury.

“So, it’s the start of a tough week, but a good week, the sort of week you want. We’ve got to bounce back, recover, and get ready to put a team out on Friday and respond.”