Barnsley manager Michael Duff admitted he tried to sign Bristol Rovers striker Aaron Collins - ahead of their League One clash at the Memorial Stadium this Saturday (March 4).
Collins is one of the leading players in League One this season, and earlier this week spoke of his desire to represent the Wales senior team this month. The Newport-born striker has 15 goals and 10 assists this season, placing him second to Jonson Clarke-Harris in the Golden Boot race, whilst he leads the division for most assists. He was considered a dark horse for the World Cup but did not receive the call from Rob Page, but his form shouldn't go amiss this time, especially after the retirement of Gareth Bale.
Before Collins established himself in this division however, he was finding his way in the game and at Morecambe, he had a respectable run, scoring eight goals in 15 matches. As he sought his next opportunity following a half-season stint at the Globe Arena, it was revealed that Duff, who was the manager of Cheltenham at the time tried to sign him.
Collins opted to join Forest Green Rovers, and spent two seasons at the New Lawn, scoring 16 goals in 83 games, helping them to the League Two play-offs. The 25-year-old then joined Rovers in the summer of 2021, and despite a slow start to life at the Memorial Stadium, he ended up being their top scorer for the campaign.
"Aaron Collins one of the most potent marksman in the league, he's got goals and assists, doing every part of the game. he said to BBC Radio Sheffield's Football Heaven. He's a good player, I tried to sign him at Cheltenham when he was at Morecambe. I've known about him a long time."
As to whether Barnsley have a particular plan for Collins, Duff said: "You go back to last week, David McGoldrick, you make a plan, you try and set the team up in a way that obviously blunts their attack and opens up their defence.
"We won't make a special plan for him, this is where he likes to move and we'll make the player aware of that. We always play with a structure anyway, irrelevant of who we're playing against, certain players are expected to do certain things depending on where the ball is. We're aware they carry a threat and he is a good player."
The Gas this weekend will come up against two players that they know well with both Bobby and Luke Thomas potentially returning against their former club. Bobby was on loan with Rovers until he was recalled by Burnley in January, and swiftly sent back out to the promotion-chasing side.
Luke, a member of last season's promotion winning squad, could also play a part. The 24-year-old has recovered from a broken leg that had him sidelined for four months and in Barnsley’s last two matches he has come on as a substitute, scoring in the 4-1 win over Derby County.