Loophole sees Collins loan deal extended by a week

PAUL Jewell believes Danny Collins’ form has dipped because of a combination of factors on and off the pitch.

The towering centre-back made a fantastic start to his three-month loan spell with the Blues, his partnership with Ibrahima Sonko a massive factor in Town’s six-match unbeaten run.

But the Welsh international has had three different centre-back partners in the last three matches as the side’s defensive frailties resurfaced. And off-the-pitch, Collins, 31, has had to deal with the premature birth of his first child – a baby boy.

But Jewell has backed his big defender to start showing his true form again after securing his loan signature for another week following a quirk in the system.

The Town boss said: “We had a settled side and the two central defenders were settled. (Ibrahima) Sonko and Danny Collins were playing out of their skins. Football is about partnerships all over the pitch – and that’s a key partnership in the team.

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“On the football pitch, he (Danny) has since had different partners and it has not been ideal.

“And from a personal perspective, Danny’s wife has just given birth five weeks early and the baby has just come out of hospital.

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“I don’t care who you are. When you have something as important as that, it can affect you.”

Having initially been set to go back to parent club Stoke City following the Barnsley match on December 10, Collins will now also be eligible to line up for the Blues against Derby a week later.

After returning to Stoke for a week during the international break to be with his wife, the Premier League club and Town agreed to cancel his initial loan agreement and start a second one a week later – meaning he can remain at the Blues for another seven days.

Tightening up Town’s leaky defence has been one of Jewell’s priorities over the international break before Saturday’s testing visit to Nottingham Forest. Top of the list appears to be preventing his side from “crumbling” when they concede a goal.

Jewell explained: “We have given goals away in bundles. When you concede one, you are always in the game. Concede two, you are always going to be chasing it. Concede three, and you are out of the game and that is what we have been doing. With the experience we have got, we have got to try and ride tough spells out.”

But despite a hugely inconsistent first third of the season, the Town boss insists his side is slowly moving in the right direction: “We have got a good team. I don’t want too many negative thoughts to creep into people’s minds.

“It is easy to do, you get beat and you have two weeks to stew about it. We have made mistakes but the biggest thing is we have definitely improved.”

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