Sheffield United v Oldham Athletic: Grateful Neill Collins set to continue career in USA

Neill Collins
Neill Collins
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Sheffield United will have to chase a League One play-off spot without defender Neill Collins after he left the Blades yesterday.

The 32-year-old former Leeds United centre-half and the Blades yesterday agreed to terminate his contract by mutual consent to allow Collins to extend his career in America.

His deal was due to expire this summer.

The defender – who has made over 200 appearances and netted 14 goals for the Blades in five years at Bramall Lane – will cross the Atlantic to join North American Soccer League outfit Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Collins said: “These opportunities only come along once in a lifetime and it was the right move for me and my family at this point in my career, I am indebted to the club for allowing me to take up this opportunity.

“There have been some devastating lows but some fantastic highs during my time at Bramall Lane and there is no question that once a Blade always a Blade – this wonderful club has a way of getting under your skin.

“I’d like to thank the players and staff I had the pleasure of working alongside.

“There are so many fantastic people working behind the scenes that deserve to see the club back where it belongs along with the long-suffering fans who are the most loyal in the country.

“Thank you for the memories and all the best in the future.”

Collins’s exit is part of manager Nigel Adkins’s brief to reduce the size of United’s large playing staff.

After falling out of favour with previous boss Nigel Clough, Collins has been a regular this campaign.

“Over a number of years, Neill has given great service to the club and we wish him all the best with this next chapter in his career,” said Adkins.

United are currently 12th in League One, six points behind sixth-placed Barnsley, who occupy the final play-off spot.

That puts the pressure on the Blades – who have won just twice in their last nine games – to get a win today with the visit of Oldham Athletic.

United hope to have top scorer Billy Sharp and captain Jay McEveley fit, after the duo missed the 2-2 draw at Fleetwood.

United’s derby with Barnsley at Bramall Lane on Saturday April 23 has been brought forward from 3pm to 12.30pm on police advice.