Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC, on Thursday, announced that the club would be replacing injured midfielder Joshua Walker with fellow Englishman and midfielder Michael Collins. Walker, who missed the first two games of the season with a knee issue, faces a long enough layoff to keep him out for the rest of the season, prompting Ashley Westwood to ring in the change.
“It’s under unfortunate circumstances that we have to replace Josh with another player but this is a short, congested season which means we had to move quickly. We’ve done our due diligence on Michael and I’ve spoken with former coaches, players and current scouts on the basis of which I’ve made my choice. Michael has more than 300 games in English football under his belt, is a good character and will be a good example of a professional to everyone around,” said Westwood.
Twenty-nine-year-old Collins started his career with Huddersfield Town with whom he spent six seasons, playing 173 times and scoring 19 goals. His second substantial spell was with current League One team Scunthorpe United where he played 79 games before moves to AFC Wimbledon (loan), Oxford City and York City (loan).
Interestingly, Walker and Collins have been teammates at Scunthorpe and the duo have been exchanging notes. “I’m very excited to start this chapter of my career. I got a call from the gaffer who gave me a lowdown about the League and more after which I had a word with my family and decided that this is the right time in my career to try something new. I’ve even been speaking with Josh who keeps filling me in,” said Collins who hails from Halifax.
Collins is slated to arrive in the country over the coming week, ruling him out of the Blues first home game against Shillong Lajong on Sunday. “There’s no time to stele in and I’m going to have to blend in right away. But I don’t think that should be a worry because I’ve been keeping myself fit. I can’t wait to come over and play my part in helping the club win the League,” said Collins who has 6 caps for the Republic of Ireland at the under-21 level.
While Walker has been replaced and de-registered from the I-League, he continues to be a Bengaluru FC player. “It’s unfortunate what happened with Josh Walker but it’s a call that had to be taken. However, he still remains a Bengaluru FC player and we wish him a speedy recovery. He was brilliant for us last season and had a big hand in the successful season the club produced. We will be working with him closely to see him recover to full fitness at the earliest,” said Mustafa Ghouse, COO of Bengaluru FC.