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Page last updated at 07:22 GMT, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

James Collins wants Welsh captaincy inspiration

Carling Nations Cup
Venue: Aviva Stadium Date: Tuesday, 8 February 2011 Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales & online, score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Sport website. Live on Sky Sports 1

James Collins
Defender James Collins will win his 38th cap against Republic of Ireland

James Collins wants the Welsh captaincy to inspire him as the experienced Premier League defender admits his Wales displays have been sub-standard.

The Aston Villa centre-back leads Wales in Gary Speed's first game as Wales boss in the Carling Nations Cup opener against Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

And wants to show why he should succeed Craig Bellamy as full-time skipper.

"I have not been overly happy with the way I've played for Wales for a while," he said. "I know I need to improve."

New boss Speed has named the 27-year-old his interim captain for Tuesday's trip to Dublin before naming a full-tie leader ahead of their next 2012 European qualifier with England in Cardiff on 26 March.

Collins and central defensive partner Ashley Williams have been tipped as favourites to replace Bellamy as Wales captain.

The 31-year-old striker relinquished the role because he could commit to playing every international due to his long-standing knee trouble.

Indeed, Bellamy is rested for Tuesday's Carling Nations Cup opener in Ireland after scoring the winner for Cardiff City in Sunday's south Wales derby against Swansea City.

Speed accepts Bellamy cannot play twice in a week due to his troublesome knee so is seeking a new skipper.

I was delighted the manager has given me the honour and I hope it continues. It is always nice to be captain

Wales captain James Collins

Collins and Williams have both previously led their county while Tottenham Hotspur sensation Gareth Bale could be an outside chance as Speed wants a "long-term" captaincy appointment.

The Newport-born defender will skipper Wales for the third time on Tuesday after leading out Wales in a 2010 World Cup qualifying win in Liechtenstein in September 2009 and a friendly defeat to Sweden in Swansea in March 2010.

Collins' performances in the heart of the Villa defence alongside Republic of Ireland centre-back Richard Dunne - his opposite number in Dublin on Tuesday - have been widely hailed.

But the 37-times capped Welshman has not been happy with his international form.

"I am now one of the older players in the squad," said Collins.

"I probably haven't lead by example with my performances on the pitch as much as I'd have liked.

"I hope having the captaincy will bring the best out of me as it is a massive honour for me to captain my country.

"So hopefully I can start leading by example on Tuesday.

"I was delighted the manager has given me the honour and I hope it continues. It is always nice to be captain."

Collins will partner Stoke City namesake Danny Collins in the centre of Wales' defence at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday with Blackpool's Neal Eardley and Bolton's Sam Ricketts as full-backs in a rare all-Premier League defensive unit for Wales.

And Collins joins the chorus of Welsh players who insists Tuesday's game is not simply a warm-up for that Millennium Stadium Battle of Britain against England next month.

"In every game you are playing for your place," said Collins.

Republic of Ireland team to face Wales in Dublin on February 8:
S Given (Manchester City); J O'Shea (Manchester United), S St Ledger (Preston), Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark (both Aston Villa); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Paul Green (Derby) or Darron Gibson (Manchester United), Damien Duff (Fulham); Jonathan Walters (Stoke), Kevin Doyle (Wolves).

Wales team to face Republic of Ireland in Dublin on February 8:
W Hennessey; N Eardley (Blackpool), D Collins (Stoke), J Collins (Aston Villa), S Ricketts (Bolton); A Crofts (Norwich), A King (Leicester), D Vaughan (Blackpool); S Church (Reading), R Earnshaw (Nottingham Forest), H Robson-Kanu (Reading).
Substitutes: C Gunter (Nottingham Forest), J Easter (Crystal Palace), F Eastwood (Coventry), J Ledley (Celtic), A Williams (Swansea), A Dorman (Crystal Palace), D Blake (Cardiff), S Vokes (Wolves, on loan at Bristol City), L Nyatanga (Bristol City), J Brown (gk, Blackburn Rovers), L Price (gk, Crystal Palace)

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Welsh football history
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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