Capital One Cup specialist James Collins is looking forward to a big fourth round night as the Swindon Town striker prepares to face his first club, Aston Villa.
Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Collins was understandably disappointed when Premier League Villa allowed him to leave the club in January 2011.
But after being transferred to Shrewsbury Town, then in npower League 2, he quickly made a name for himself – particularly in the League Cup.
In only his second appearance for the club, Collins scored in a 3-2 win against Championship side Derby County.
And then, after helping the Shrews beat Premier League Swansea City in Round 2, he hit a tremendous goal at the Emirates Stadium to give his team the lead against Arsenal – only for the Gunners to bounce back and win 3-1.
“That night at Arsenal was one of the biggest highlights of my career to date,” Collins told football-league.co.uk.
“It was a big game and a great stage to play on,” he added, “and it made me more determined than ever to build a successful career.
“I was obviously disappointed when Villa decided to let me go because I’d been there from my school days. But it was time to move on and I've done okay since.”
Collins has done more than okay in this season’s Capital One Cup after his summer move to Swindon, who last term won League 2 to gain automatic promotion along with runners-up Shrewsbury and are currently lying seventh in the League 1 table.
The 21-year-old striker memorably hit a hat-trick in the Robins’ brilliant 4-3 Second Round win at Premier League Stoke City.
They had knocked Brighton and Hove Albion out in the First Round and then, after winning at Stoke, they disposed of the Seagulls’ Championship rivals Burnley to earn themselves a home tie against Villa.
And after scoring three goals in his last four League appearances, Collins is ready to take on Villa at what should be a packed County Ground.
He said: “I'm really looking forward to the game. I don’t feel that I've got a point to prove to Villa and I certainly don’t bear any grudges – but I want to beat them.
“I've still got mates at the club and my old coaching staff will probably be at the game, so it’s a chance to show them what I can do.
“The last few weeks have been kind to me in terms of goals and the Capital One Cup has been very good to me over the last two seasons, and hopefully that will continue.
“Villa will be favourites to beat us, but we feel capable of beating anyone at the County Ground and we’ll be going into the game full of confidence.”