Cobblers defender Lee Collins admits he has ‘let a lot of people down’ after being convicted of assault but is confident he can make a valuable contribution in the play-offs.
The 24-year-old was given a 12-month suspended sentence, ordered to do 150 hours of community service, pay a £2,500 fine and given a night-time curfew for his part in an incident in Shropshire last year.
Town manager gave a character reference in court for Collins, who has been one of the team’s best performers since signing a short-term contract at Sixfields in January.
He continued his strong form in the 2-0 win over Barnet on Saturday, in which he lined up at left-back, and afterwards he was contrite about the assault while conceding its conclusion has come as a huge relief.
“I let myself down and I let a lot of other people down but I hope people know it was a long time ago,” said Collins.
“It’s been almost a year now and I’ve changed as a person. I don’t put myself in those kinds of situations any more.
“As much as I’ve told myself it wasn’t a weight on my shoulders, it has been, especially the closer it got to the date of going to court.
“You’re sort of free when you play but it has been hanging over me. It’s done now, I’m going to do my punishment and hopefully I can contribute to the team.”
That contribution looked in doubt when Collins was given his curfew orders, which require the player to stay in his house between 8pm and 6am for a period of 12 weeks.
But the club have begun legal proceedings to enable Collins to play in their play-off semi-finals, the first of which is against Cheltenham at Sixfields on Thursday night.
“I know that it can be quite flexible because this is my work and the last thing they’d want me to do is to have to leave employment because I can’t do the hours that are required of me,” he said.
“We’re confident that if we go down the route of applying for special permission that I will be allowed to play in those games.”