Bristol Rovers striker issues perfect response to Portsmouth speculation

Portsmouth are mulling over whether to try to sign Aaron Collins from Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)Portsmouth are mulling over whether to try to sign Aaron Collins from Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Portsmouth are mulling over whether to try to sign Aaron Collins from Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Aaron Collins is fully focused on the task in hand in League One next year.... with Bristol Rovers!

Bristol Rovers striker Aaron Collins has seemingly poured cold water on rumours linking him with a move to Portsmouth.

The 24-year-old has returned from the player’s holiday out in Dubai to toast their League Two promotion success.

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Whilst he was out in the United Arab Emirates, there were rumours that Pompey had been considering looking at the Welshman. A report from The Portsmouth had said that Danny Cowley had been mulling over whether to pursue a move for him or not.

But Rovers’ top scorer who had 18 goals in all competitions last season, is fully focused on the season ahead and is aiming to beat his career best tally in a higher level next season.

“I’m really excited about the new season and all of us just want to keep this going,” said Collins to the official club website.

The club is on the up and I’m so happy to be a part of it. “I’m setting myself a target of 20 goals – why not?

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“We’re on a roll, we all believe in what the gaffer is doing and, with a couple of additions in the summer, we believe we can go up again. The sky really is the limit. You’ve got to aim high."

Collins was reflecting on what was a whirlwind season that saw the club go from 17th at the start of the New Year to finishing in the top three, having only reached that position on the final day.

He like his side endured a slow start to the season and drew a blank in his first 18 games, struggling to find the net even in EFL Trophy matches.

A belter of a strike against Oxford United would begin a few sequences of goals however that would have him as by far the top scorer in Rovers’ squad this season.

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Despite his lack of goals at times, his manager Joey Barton entrusted him to lead the line after a change in formation in the new year.

He would survive a new signing in Ryan Loft, holding down the only starting striker role for a majority of the season.

And whilst there may have been a few scoreless streaks, including an eight-game one before his hat-trick at Rochdale, there was always belief in him to deliver the goods.

Barton, a boyhood Everton fan, likened Collins, a fan of the red side of Merseyside, to Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino, who may not be the most prolific of strikers but plays an important role in the team.

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Collins said: “I’m a massive Liverpool fan, so to be even compared to him is amazing. The gaffer always said to me that I’ve got to do that number nine role in my own way.

“I’m not a target man, but I can do things that they can’t. The gaffer kept me in that team. He could have dropped me, but he didn’t. He knew I could do it. Once the goals started coming, it was proving him right.”

Rovers spent 48 days of the season in 16th position, as well as 29 in 17th and 28 in 18th, highlighting how much of an achievement it really was.

Rovers’ very nearly didn’t find themselves in the promotion picture at all when they trailed to Rochdale in their penultimate game of the season.

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A two-goal comeback from 3-1 down however saw them move up to fourth and results going in their favour left it to a final day shootout with Northampton.

“It’s mad when you stop and think about it,” he admitted. “One minute we’re not in the play-offs, the next we’re celebrating with the Gasheads and the gaffer on the pitch after scoring four goals. What’s even more mad is we knew it was going to happen.

“There’s been a vibe growing at the club, in all areas from training to staff to the gaffer, everyone just ‘knew’ promotion was coming.”

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