FIRE-MAN SAM: Collins aims to start new season in blazing form

Sam Collins in action against Exeter City. Picture by FRANK REID
Sam Collins in action against Exeter City. Picture by FRANK REID

SAM Collins admits he was “devastated” last season finished when it did and insists he is looking to come back firing on all cylinders.

The Hartlepool United player coach was arguably playing some of his finest football since arriving at Victoria Park six years ago after returning to Colin Cooper’s team following the sale of Jack Baldwin.

Collins admits he was pleased with his own form and says the Sky Bet League Two season finished at the “wrong time” on a personal note, after starting all 18 matches following Baldwin’s move to Peterborough United.

Prior to January, Collins, who turns 37 today, had to make do with a place on the bench but turned back the clock with some fine defensive displays on his return.

Birthday boy Collins is now looking to come back firing when the Pools camp return to training on Tuesday, July 1 and will be keeping himself fit over the summer playing various sports.

Collins told SportMail: “From a personal point of view I was devastated the season finished when it did.

“Obviously I didn’t get in the team properly until after Christmas and then managed to string together a few games and was really enjoying it.

“The season finished at a bad time for me really because I’d had a good run but I’m looking forward to coming back firing.”

Pontefract-born Collins, who signed a new player coach contract at the club this summer, is a fitness fanatic and a keen triathlete.

He said he will be looking to keep himself in top condition over the summer break, ahead of the return to pre-season at Pools’ Maiden Castle base in Durham.

Collins said: “I love keeping myself fit, whether it is with the family or doing stuff on my own.

“I love going out on my bike, playing golf, going swimming and playing loads of different sports that will keep me busy and get me prepared to go again when we return to pre-season in July.

“It is something I am looking forward to already.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged League One side Scunthorpe United may be about to rival Pools for the signature of Bradford Park Avenue’s Jordan Deacey.

Officials at the Conference North club say the Iron are keen on securing the services of the attacking midfielder, who last season spent a large period of time after Christmas on trial at Pools, turning out in several reserve matches.

If Cooper were to sign Deacey, it would the second signing from the club after Pools last summer captured the signing of right-back Michael Duckworth.

Cooper is friends with Deacey’s father John, who is the Bradford PA boss.

The non-league club’s finance director Kevin Hainsworth has been quoted saying Scunthorpe are ahead of Pools in the pecking order should the 20-year-old decide to leave.

Mr Hainsworth is quoted as saying: “Jordan might be going to Scunthorpe United because they are the latest to be keen on him.

“We are playing Hartlepool as part of Ducky’s transfer and he has done well for Colin Cooper.

“It was common knowledge that they were having a close look at Jordan but it could be that Scunny get him.”

Pools visit Bradford Park Avenue’s Horsfall Stadium on Saturday, July 19 for a pre-season friendly.

l LONG-SERVING Pools midfielder Antony Sweeney is said to be attracting interest from Carlisle United and Bristol Rovers, who are managed by former Pools midfielder Darrell Clarke.

Rovers were relegated to the Conference on the final day of last season, while the Cumbrian side were relegated from Sky Bet League One into League Two.

Sweeney is out of contract at The Vic but has been offered a new deal, along with forward James Poole and defender Neil Austin, who are also yet to sign.