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Club Battle on Hold as Collins Eyes Belgium Victory

By Ed Leahy, RTÉ Sport Journalist

Nathan Collins, the rising star of Irish football, is determined to steer Ireland toward redemption in their friendly clash against Belgium. While the match may lack official stakes, it carries immense significance for an Ireland side that has grappled with waning momentum over the past year.

From World Cup Finalists to Managerial Turmoil

It all began with an electrifying performance against France in March 2023, where Ireland narrowly succumbed to a 1-0 defeat. Despite the loss, positives emerged, and the team's potential shone through. However, subsequent results under Stephen Kenny's management were disappointing, leading to the elimination of Euro 2024 qualification hopes and Kenny's departure.

O'Shea's Mandate: Winning Mentality

Interim manager John O'Shea now shoulders the responsibility of reigniting Ireland's fire. His message to the squad is clear: focus on winning. Forget possession football and intricate build-up play; prioritize clean sheets and the art of victory. As Ireland faces a formidable Belgium side preparing for the summer tournament in Germany, Collins echoes this sentiment:

"To win," asserts Collins. "Every game is about winning, no matter the context. We want to play for Ireland, but ultimately, we want to win. It's a good chance for us on Saturday to secure a victory."

Playing for Ireland: An Honorable Duty

Collins, who has become a mainstay in the Ireland setup, emphasizes that representing his country is an honor. Despite the frustrations of recent years, he remains committed:

"I wouldn't say it's been hard to represent Ireland," shares the Brentford centre-half. "Losing hurts, but it's an honor. Our goal is clear: play for Ireland and win."

In the dying seconds against France, Collins nearly salvaged a point for Ireland. Now, as they face Belgium and Switzerland, his consistent form bodes well for the challenges ahead.

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