Former Republic of Ireland player Kenny Cunningham is concerned about Nathan Collins’ lack of minutes for Wolves of late.
The central defender has been ousted from the starting XI by new signing Craig Dawson.
Collins, a £20 million signing from Burnley, has not started in the Premier League since the defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium back in January.
Julen Lopetegui immediately turned to Dawson after signing him, pairing him with Max Kilman at the back.
Collins has come on as a substitute in each of Wolves’ last two games.
Against Tottenham Hotspur he helped to change the game. Against Newcastle United yesterday, the decision by Lopetegui to move to a back three probably cost Wolves.
Dawson and Kilman appear to now be the manager’s firmly established pairing, and Cunningham – who got 72 caps for his country – is concerned from an Ireland national team standpoint.
He believes Collins’ development could be impacted by being on the bench.
He said on the Off The Ball podcast: “The experience of Dawson, and obviously Kilman got the captain’s armband today, that tells you the standing in which the manager holds him.
“It’s got to be a tough one for him. It’s not ideal for him in terms of his development. He went there, got in the team straight away and you thought ‘happy days this is great, he’s getting a lot of minutes, that will help him sharpen up his game, particularly with the international games coming up in February’. But it hasn’t happened, has it?”
Collins has come in for some criticism for his latest performance against Newcastle.
But arguably, it was not the right decision from Lopetegui to put him on. It just seemed to invite pressure, and Newcastle exploited the space down Wolves’ left side.
Nathan Collins’ chance for regular at Wolves minutes will come again, he just needs to be patient now
It can’t be an easy time for Collins at the moment.
He has been cast aside by Lopetegui in favour of Dawson, who has been absolutely superb since coming into the team.
Kilman has been much improved as a result of playing next to him. So there’s a very slim chance of him dropping out, especially being a left-footer playing on the left side.
So Collins will just have to be patient for a run of starts again. Unfortunately for him, a case can’t be made for him to be starting given the form of Dawson and Kilman. Unless there was a shift to a back three.
Even though he isn’t getting many minutes at the moment, he will at least still be learning a lot from Dawson in training.