Bristol Rovers star Aaron Collins has discovered his Wales fate, and it’s not good news for him. The 25-year-old’s wait to achieve his ‘dream’ will go on after he was snubbed by Rob Page.
Collins is one of the most productive players across both the Premier League and Football League, but despite being in the form of his life, it is not enough to earn a call-up. It’s a new era for Welsh football after the retirement of superstar Gareth Bale, as well as others, but at the moment Collins isn’t in that picture.
For Gas fans, they won’t be too disappointed as League One does not come to a pause because of the international break. Rovers have a trip to the New Meadow next week to face Shrewsbury Town and now the ever present Collins will be able for selection against the Shrews.
It is disappointing to Collins however, who will be wondering what he has to do to get international recognition. He’s in the form of his life and is enjoying a career best season in a division he’s experiencing for the first time. His snub comes on the same day where he’s trying to prepare himself for a match against Wycombe Wanderers.
League One is represented in the Wales squad with Ipswich Town pair Nathan Broadhead and Wes Burns included. Broadhead scored five goals for Wigan in the Championship before his January move and would have been one of Collins’ rivals. Burns is also included, but can play at wing-back, and so he wouldn’t have been in direct competition for the position.
Perhaps one criticism of the Wales squad is the inclusion of Fulham’s Luke Harris, given he has not played regular first-team football this season, and whilst he is for sure one for the future, there needs to be a thought for the here and now. Collins is a player obviously in form and he is considerably older than Harris who is 17-years-old. The Cottagers starlet is quite clearly highly rated, with three appearances off the bench in the Premier League this season, but would he not be better suited in the age grade teams? Collins is one of the best performing Welshman this season, and whilst it will be a valuable experience for Harris to train with the seniors, playing regularly and also performing, should be the priority when choosing a squad.
In an interview with BBC Wales last month he said: "Playing for your country is one of the biggest things you can ever do in your career. If I’m able to get that chance, it would be a dream come true for me.
"I can just get this chance to go and prove that I can do it on that stage. "I’m hoping for the best and if I get my chance, I’ll be looking to take it, but if it doesn’t, I’ll keep working harder to get that chance in June or next season."
As Collins alluded to, March’s international fixtures isn’t the only opportunity for him, and now the job will be to prove Page wrong in excluding him this time around. Wales have fixtures against Armenia and Turkey in June, and that perhaps would be better all-round.
Rovers wouldn’t lose their key man for any competitive matches, and Wales could get a closer look at him at a training camp, before they decide if he should be called up. There’s a possibility this summer that Collins gets sold, but with a long-term contract, Rovers hold all the cards and can command a reasonable fee. A call-up to the Wales team would perhaps add value to how much Collins is worth, but Rovers will hope they one day get to the Championship with Collins rather than him needing to move up a division without them to achieve his dream.