Don’t look down! Cobblers striker Collins on his promotion experience

PROMOTION EXPERIENCE - Cobblers striker James Collins

PROMOTION EXPERIENCE - Cobblers striker James Collins

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James Collins knows a thing or two about winning promotion.

Only last term, the striker played a crucial role in firing Shrewsbury to a top-three spot and automatic promotion from Sky Bet League One, finishing the season as the club’s top scorer with 15 goals.

Now, the 25-year-old is on the promotion hunt once more, except this time it’s with Northampton Town.

Leading the way in Sky Bet League Two by two points and, after a weekend where results went their way, with two games in hand, the Cobblers find themselves in pole position to follow in Shrewsbury’s footsteps.

But Collins, who has scored two goals in three games since arriving on loan at Sixfields, is well aware of the work which still needs to be done.

And he says it is a case of looking up, rather than down.

“It’s good to be 11 points clear (of fourth) but we know what this league is like - you can’t get complacent because there are some good sides around us,” warned Collins.

“We can’t dwell on that 11-point lead, we need to try and open the gap even more when we next play.

“We’re in a great position but we can’t dwell on it because if you do drop a few points, other teams will gain on you and it suddenly becomes a smaller gap.

“You need to look upwards rather than behind you.”

Northampton hold that 11-point lead over fourth-placed Bristol Rovers - who lost 1-0 at fifth-placed Accrington on Saturday - partly thanks to Collins whose goals against Plymouth and Morecambe set the Cobblers on their way to six vital points.

“I’m delighted with how it’s gone so far,” added the former Aston Villa man.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing at Sixfields against Northampton, so I was glad I could get a goal on my home debut for the home team now.”

The Cobblers players are back in training on Monday after they had a weekend off due to scheduled opponents Oxford United’s involvement in the FA Cup fourth round, the Us losing 3-0 to Blackburn Rovers at the Kassam Stadium.

The break has allowed the Town players to recharge the batteries ahead of a crucial period in February when the Cobblers play seven times in 21 days, a run which includes games against fellow promotion hopefuls Leyton Orient, Oxford, Wycombe Wanderers, AFC Wimbledon and Carlisle United.

“It’ll be a massive part of the season,” admitted Collins.

“We’ll get Lawson (D’Ath) and Alfie (Potter) back for that run and they’ll only boost our chances.”