The 23-year-old goalkeeper joined the Reds last summer on a four-year contract after leaving Chelsea and has played 22 games – 19 in the Championship – during injury spells for Radlinger. The Austrian, who also joined last summer, has tended to be first choice under both Daniel Stendel and his replacement Gerhard Struber and is now understood to be recovered from the injury which kept him out of the last month of action before the coronavirus crisis.
Collins impressed in February, with three successive clean sheets in victories, but knows he will have to fight for his place. He told the Chronicle: “It will be good competition but me and Sam are close, there’s no bitterness there and we support each other every single day. I think that’s very important. Whoever gets the shirt, the other ‘keeper will be right behind them. It’s important you stick together. “Both of us have had good games and bad games, which you will get in a long hard Championships season. Overall I think we have both done pretty well.”
This is Collins’ first season in the second tier after loan spells in League Two with Forest Green Rovers and League One with Burton Albion. He said: “As a professional footballer you want to play every game but, with the change of managers, you have to understand that you might not play as much as you want. We didn’t get the results we wanted for most of the season, with a very very tough start. But Gerhard came in and we have changed it around.”
Collins, who is currently living with his girlfriend in London, is keeping as fit as possible during the lockdown. He said: “I ordered an exercise bike straight away and I have been doing a lot of cycling because it’s good for power for goalkeepers. I have been doing some running and some work on my upper body strength but that is hard because I don’t have many weights at home so it is just bodyweight exercises. I can’t do goalkeeper training in the garden. But it’s the same for a lot of people so I just need to stay ready for when we play again. I am in contact with Kev (Pilkington, goalkeeper coach) and I am having banter with the lads. We have Zoom calls. When you’re in and around the changing room with all the boys, then you don’t see them for a while, it is tough. “You just want to be back at work, having a laugh and training.”
Some of the banter revolves around captain Alex Mowatt’s efforts in a FIFA tournament between clubs, in which he is Barnsley’s representative. He lost his first game to Luton Town then complained that he was using the wrong settings in the first half. He said: “We have all been battering Alex in the chat for losing the FIFA game. I could have done better than him and I want to organise a game against him when the tournament is over.”