Football: Collins cagey as move to Premiership beckons

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THE SCOTLAND midfielder John Collins yesterday insisted he will wait until after the World Cup before deciding which English Premiership club to join.

The 30-year-old midfielder has been linked with moves to both Middlesbrough and Liverpool after admitting he will leave Monaco after the finals.

Collins was impressive against Brazil in the tournament opener on Wednesday, when his penalty ultimately failed to prevent the Scots falling to a 2- 1 defeat.

And as he prepares to face Norway on Tuesday in a match crucial to Scotland's hopes of qualifying for the second round, the former Celtic player will not be rushed into deciding where to continue his career.

He said: "I have got a year to go on my contract with Monaco but I feel now is a good time to come back and play in England. There is nothing definite but I have got good options and I will make my decision after the World Cup. There is too much to concentrate on at the moment."

Collins believes it is now vital to beat Norway in Bordeaux on Tuesday if Craig Brown's side are to fulfil their dream of becoming the first Scottish side to make it past the group stages.

"Not getting anything out of the first game means it is now vital to get three points against Norway," he said. "There is a lot of confidence in the group that we can qualify, although we have got two tough games ahead of us with Morocco to come as well."

The need for Norway to gain a victory is equally pressing if Egil Olsen's side are also to progress beyond the first round for the first time. They will meet Brazil in their final first-round match, so earning maximum points against the Scots may prove decisive. "Brazil will qualify from the group, and then it will be one from Norway, Scotland and Morocco," Olsen said.

"I'm sure it will be a very difficult game for us against the Scots. I heard they played very well against Brazil, so I know it won't be easy for us. It will be a tight game and potentially a decisive game. The winner can go through, but the loser will be eliminated."

Olsen is considering up to three changes - probably all in defence - to the team who drew with Morocco in Montpellier. "We couldn't cope with the fast attacks and the long balls from Morocco," he said. "We need to work on our organisation in defence and I may make one, two or three changes. I don't know at this stage."

Norway have only one injury problem, the defender Vegard Heggem, who pulled groin muscles during yesterday's training session and is expected to be out of action for at least 48 hours.

Jamaica's Fitzroy Simpson is convinced the Reggae Boyz will show the world how good they are when they open their Group H campaign against Croatia in Lens tomorrow - that the West Indians are not merely present in France to make up the numbers.

The Portsmouth midfielder claims Jamaica are in a defiant mood and could well surprise any side that does not afford them the respect they deserve.

"We are here to try and make progress in the tournament," he said. "Of course, we are under no illusions. It will be a big test for us but if our opposition treat us too lightly then they will be in for a big surprise.

"There are some talented players in our squad and we are all confident about our ability as a team. We are optimistic about making progress."