Neill Collins is desperate to help Sheffield United win promotion, 12 months after fearing his career was over at Bramall Lane.
The centre-half seemed destined for the exit door this time last season due to a series of irreconcilable differences with then manager Nigel Clough.
But, after being handed a lifeline by the former England international’s successor Nigel Adkins, Collins is expected to make his 25th appearance of the season when United visit Wigan on Boxing Day.
“I thought at the end of last year with January coming up, that there was probably a fair chance I had played my last game for Sheffield United,” Collins said. “I have taken a lot of self-satisfaction that I have managed to come through that. Getting to wear the jersey once was an achievement and hopefully I go on and do it a few more times and win a few more games. If I could finish the season with a promotion, then that would be fantastic.”
Collins joined United, ninth in the League One table, from neighbours Leeds four years ago. Adkins, previously of Scunthorpe, Southampton and Reading, was appointed soon after May’s play-off semi-final defeat by Swindon Town.
“When I was out of the team, I was determined to fight my way back in,” he added. “But when it became abundantly clear that literally no matter what I did, it wasn’t happen under that manager, then I’m not daft.
“I knew I needed to look at other avenues and went out on loan at Port Vale. It was a case of getting some games before the end of the season.
“Then circumstances dictated that I got another opportunity here and I am delighted that the manager gave me that fresh start and was able to judge me on what I did on the training pitch and the pitch.”