James Collins ready for Hibs challenge

James Collins will add some much-needed fire power to the Hibs forward line. Picture: PA
James Collins will add some much-needed fire power to the Hibs forward line. Picture: PA
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THE Republic of Ireland Under-21 internationalist James Collins last night declared he was thrilled to have joined Hibs after penning a reported three-year deal.

With the Easter Road club remaining firmly tight-lipped on the proposed move, the Swindon Town striker was said to have been the subject of an agreed £200,000 bid earlier in the week.

The English Championship outfit Huddersfield Town and League One newcomers Rotherham United also showed interest in the former Aston Villa trainee, and wages initially looked like they could prove a stumbling block.

However, following two days in the capital for negotiations and a look around the club’s stadium and East Lothian training centre, the Coventry-born youngster has apparently agreed to try and fill the boots of 28-goal Leigh Griffiths.

Collins said on social media: “I’m happy to have signed for Hibs. It’s been a good couple of days in Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to the challenge of the SPFL and meeting up with the team soon.

“Thanks for all the welcome messages as well.

“Also a thank you to Swindon Town, I enjoyed my time there a lot, with the lads, fans and club, and I wish them all the best this season.”

Collins scored 18 goals in 51 appearances for Swindon last season, including a hat-trick in the 4-3 Capital One Cup victory over Stoke City in August and four goals in the 5-0 hammering of Portsmouth on New Year’s Day in League One. The 6ft 2in marksman, who was farmed out to Darlington and Burton Albion while with Villa, also netted 24 times in an 18-month stay with Shrewsbury Town, but is aware he has his work cut out to make as big a mark on Hibs as predecessor Griffiths.

In an interview earlier this week, he said: “If I did end up going to Hibs it would be a big challenge for me. Leigh Griffiths did really well for them and I’m aware of that.”

Despite being born in Coventry, Collins has played 12 times for Republic of Ireland U21s.