Is Nathan Collins Stoke’s new right-back?
After three straight starts at right-back, three clean sheets, a game winning goal against Middlesbrough, and a nomination to the Championship team of the week – it’s time to talk about Nathan Collins.
The 19 year-old has impressed recently in a role that not many had him pegged for… right-back. Up until Stoke’s 11/28 match against Sheffield Wednesday, Collins’ only appearances were at center-back this season. It should be mentioned that we did see Collins at right-back last season for two away matches at Reading and Wigan.
So how has Nathan done in the past few matches?
Visually, he looks comfortable. He defends well and shows the energy needed to get forward and retreat back. He is by no means a liability defensively when out wide and has made some impressive 1-on-1 tackles against wingers. He has also show willingness to get forward, something I really didn’t expect to see. Collins even had a play last match where he fought into the box, walked across the goal, and delivered a cross, a play that I’m sure surprised a few.
Where I think Collins still has work to do is his through balls. His timing is just a little off in setting up wide players like Tyrese Campbell. He placed a number of balls that either went out of play or were intercepted, balls that say, Tommy Smith might be better suited for.
Statistically, he has also looked the part:
Last 3 matches: 1 goals, 3 fouls drawn, 2 fouls committed, 7 crosses, 2 tackles won, 2 interceptions
For comparison, here are Morgan Fox’s stats over the same three matches at left-back:
1 assist, 2 fouls drawn, 6 fouls committed, 7 crosses, 3 tackles won, 3 interceptions
The stats are nearly identical which says a lot since Morgan Fox came to the club as an established right-back.
Is Nathan Collins Stoke’s future right-back?
At 19 years old, it’s hard to stamp a player with clear position. As of right now I would at least add right-back to the list of positions for Collins. We’ve seen enough now to know he can play there and not be a liability, which is encouraging. At the moment, Stoke really have a competitive defensive unit that can play multiple positions and accommodate a variety of formations. It’s safe to say that seeing Collins at right-back has been added to this defensive unit which will not only give Collins more of an opportunity, but also give some healthy competition to Tommy Smith. You love seeing young players progress, and that is exactly what we are seeing out of Collins.