Nathan Collins’s helping hand as Stoke City in line for subs boost


Nathan Collins is sure his Stoke City experience will prove beneficial in two big qualifiers for Republic of Ireland under-21s.

Ireland are hoping to qualify for a major under-21s tournament for the first time – and know wins over Iceland and Luxembourg in the next few days will book their ticket as one of the best second-placed nations.

Collins, Derby midfielder Jason Knight and QPR defender Conor Masterson are the players in the squad with the most senior game time under their belts and there is no underestimating the value of that.

“The first-team football has been really helpful,” Collins told the Irish Independent.

“What I bring from the Championship to international football is big.

“It helps myself and the other players in the squad. A lot of them have experience as well in the Championship or the Premier League or League One.

“Whatever international age-group I’ve been in, we’ve had a good team. We just want to bounce back from the Italy defeat by winning these two games.”

Ireland take on Iceland at Tallaght on Sunday before heading to Luxembourg next Wednesday.

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Michael O’Neill not resting on any defensive laurels

Michael O’Neill isn’t resting on any defensive laurels as Stoke City go into a decisive two months on the back of nine clean sheets in 15 games.

Stoke’s  record at the back has improved markedly in 2020/21 but that took a dent in the past three weeks.

They were still able to pick up four points from the four out of five matches when they let in two or more but that might not be sustainable in a rush of fixtures through November and December which will go a long way to shaping the season.

So O’Neill was encouraged by going into the international break with shut outs against Rotherham and Reading.

You can read the full story here

A bit of Mo Salah thinking in Michael O’Neill’s plan for Tyrese Campbell

This week’s column from Robbie Earle.

“Playing as a ‘wide forward’ isn’t some sort of junior role for Tyrese Campbell, in fact I think  Michael O’Neill  is using him in one of the most influential positions in the modern game…”

You can read the full column here

Championship clubs set to vote on mid-season rule change

Championship clubs could cock a snook at the Premier League and reintroduce a temporary rule to allow five substitutes.

Michael O’Neill has led the call for managers to be allowed to make more changes in a season when fixtures are being squeezed into a month shorter schedule than normal,  backed by sports scientists who point to heightened risk of injury.

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke joined forces, arguing that match day squads should be set at 20, adding: “I think I am allowed to speak now and highlight the safety and quality and health of the game.”

Now, at  an EFL board meeting,  clubs across the division have been able to signal they would welcome a change. A vote is expected to be held before the return to action following the international break.

You can read the full story here





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