Captain Collins full of praise for new boss' speedy impact

James Collins is looking forward with confidence as he helps lead Wales into a new era this evening.

The Aston Villa defender will captain Wales in Gary Speed's first match as manager as they face the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in the Carling Nations Cup.

It will be the third time the 27-year-old has led the Welsh in the absence of Craig Bellamy - who is with the squad but not playing - although he has no desire to usurp the talismanic striker.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Collins, who has 37 caps, said: "It's nice to be captain and I'm delighted that the manger has asked me to do it again but Bellers is the captain."

However, Collins was more excited about the new beginning under former Sheffield United boss Speed.

"Every player in the squad probably looked up to the manager when he was playing and a lot of the boys have watched him throughout his career," he said. "He was held in massive respect even before he came in so it's given everyone a big lift.

"He's very enthusiastic about Welsh football and the boys are getting right on board.

"There are comparisons with Mark Hughes because they both set about the job in the same way, but it's early days for the new manager and we're all still getting to know each other."

Like Speed, Collins welcomed Bellamy's presence in and around the Wales camp.

Bellamy is not injured but is managing a long-term knee problem.

Collins said: "It's great for the younger boys in the squad to have Craig around and it shows his commitment to the cause.

"He brings a funny slant to the camp because he is loud and always talking."