James Collins: West Ham form is all for Chris Coleman's benefit

James Collins (right) pictured with Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale
James Collins (right) has won 46 caps for Wales and admits he should have more

James Collins believes he is playing the best football of his career, entirely because of his ambition to play for Wales at Euro 2016.

The West Ham United defender has become a key figure at Upton Park this season and has signed a new contract.

Collins is a regular in the Premier League, but not for his country.

"My current good form is fuelled by Wales, 100% that is in my mind, wanting to impress (Wales manager) Chris Coleman," he said.

The 32-year old former Cardiff City and Aston Villa defender earned only 46 international caps, fewer than younger team-mates Chris Gunter (63), Joe Ledley (58), Ashley Williams (55) and Gareth Bale (53).

That is despite making his debut for the Dragons in 2004 against Norway.

Euro aim

Wales face Slovakia, England and Russia this summer in France, Wales' first major tournament appearance in 58-years.

"This is the strongest Welsh squad I have been involved with, it is a great squad and there is competition for places.

"There is no guarantee of being in the squad, let alone starting the games.

"So I feel like I need to impress the gaffer, that is my frame of mind.

"You know with him you need to train well and work hard.

"I want him to have me in my thoughts for a starting place or just to get in the squad.

"To go and be involved would be amazing, but the ultimate would be to play well in a major tournament for Wales."

James Collins
James Collins was told he'd be fourth choice defender for club side West Ham at the start of the season
Euro 2016, Wales' key dates
Opponent: Slovakia Venue: Stade de Bordeaux Date: Saturday 11 June Kick-off: 17.00 GMT
Opponent: England Venue: Stade Bollaert-Delelis Date: Thursday 16 June Kick-off: 14.00 GMT
Opponent: Russia Venue: Stadium de Toulouse Date: Monday 20 June Kick-off: 20.00 GMT

Senior pro

Collins feels he is ready to embrace the role of elder statesman in Chris Coleman's youthful squad.

"I feel like I have grown-up, Wales is a young squad and I've been part of football for a lot longer than some of the others," he explained.

"I am a senior player and international breaks can be a long week, I try to keep the boys entertained.

"You bring your stories to tell the boys and they are all great lads, the gaffer has got things spot on in the Wales camp.

"I enjoy it, all the players enjoy it and I'm playing the best football of my career, personally.

"In the past we've turned up before the first qualifier and thought 'we aren't going to qualify'.

"That doesn't happen anymore."

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