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Martin O’Neill tipped Aston Villa target James Collins for the top in 2009

Aston Villa

Martin O’Neill tipped Aston Villa target James Collins for the top in 2009

The Welsh free agent is being linked with a return to Aston Villa.

Aston Villa are reportedly eyeing up the return of an experienced defender to help them pick up their promotion bid. On this occasion, however, it is not John Terry being referred to.

It is, in fact, James Collins. The former Wales international remains without a club after leaving West Ham United in the summer.

The Birmingham Mail suggest Collins is being discussed as a potential option to strengthen their backline.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Aston Villa Manager Martin O’Neill looks on priorthe Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Villa Park on March 20, 2010 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Of course, it would be a Villa Park return for the 35-year-old veteran. He joined the club from West Ham in 2009 and spent three seasons at the club before heading back to Upton Park.

He was a signing that had then Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill over the moon nine years ago. The £6 million signing was tipped for great things, with the now Ireland boss suggesting Collins could go on to become one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

“All the things I saw in James’s game he’s shown fantastically well.


“The ability to be composed under pressure, to play the ball, manoeuvre it, control it, and he really tries to defend to the best of his ability. He can become one of the best. He has all the attributes.”

– Martin O’Neill discussing James Collins in 2009

That never quite happened at Villa Park. The Welshman was a regular in all three of his seasons at the club. But when O’Neill left he clashed with replacement Gerard Houllier and Paul Lambert eventually let him go.

So he never quite joined the elite in the way O’Neill envisioned.

But Collins still has plenty to offer and many West Ham fans were gutted to see him leave this summer.

Aston Villa could certainly do a lot worse.

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