Hibs’ James Collins lifted by Butcher’s direct style

James Collins celebrates scoring against Partick Thistle
James Collins celebrates scoring against Partick Thistle
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James Collins has claimed the more direct style of play demanded by new Hibs boss Terry Butcher will soon have him banging in the goals.

The £200,000 striker halted a nine-game barren run stretching back almost three months by netting a last-gasp equaliser against Partick Thistle to extend the Easter Road outfit’s unbeaten run under Butcher to three matches.

But while admitting he was relieved to finally end his own personal drought, the 22-year-old firmly believes Butcher’s approach will begin to pay dividends for the Scottish Premiership’s lowest-scoring side.

The former Swindon Town hitman said: “I was very happy to get my first goal in a while and to get the point for the team which was much needed. The goal drought hopefully is over now and I can kick on with many more. The hard work has been there but maybe not the quality in the final third. You have to keep working hard and then you will reap the rewards. I’m not at my best yet, but I am working towards it.

“The new way we are playing suits me. The manager wants the ball put into the box at every opportunity, the ball to be played forward early and in behind teams which can only benefit strikers in getting attempts on goal.

“It’s the way I want to play and hopefully it will get me many more goals.”

Allied to Butcher’s desire to see the game played more in the opposition half is the fact that against St Mirren, Ross County and Partick Thistle they’ve looked harder to beat, with only one goal conceded in those three matches, in which goalkeeper Ben Williams has hardly had a shot to save.

Collins acknowledged, though, that Butcher’s players will undergo a more serious examination of their new-found belief and confidence at Celtic Park today, with Neil Lennon’s side intent on bouncing back from their midweek Champions League humiliation at the hands of Barcelona.

He said: “I’ve been there a few times to watch games, but this will be the first time I’ve played there. It’s the sort of place every player wants to play and to get a goal there would be fantastic.

“They are the best side in the league, they have the biggest budget, the most experienced players in terms of internationalists, and everyone will be expecting them to win. So we have nothing to lose. Everyone expects us to go there and be beaten, but if we go with no fear, with all guns blazing, we can cause an upset. Definitely.”