NEWPORT’S James Collins has issued a ‘come and get me’ plea to potential new employers as he aims to prolong his playing career.

The veteran former Wales international was released by Ipswich Town in the summer following their relegation to League One.

Collins turned 36 in August and he’s beginning to plan for life after football by setting up soccer schools in London and Newport.

But he’s not yet ready to hang up his boots and he’s desperate to find a new club before Christmas.

“I still want to play at the minute,” said Collins, who won 51 caps for Wales and made nearly 300 appearances in the Premier League with West Ham United and Aston Villa.

“It’s looking less likely as the weeks go on, but I’m staying fit.

“I haven’t had too many offers, but the plan is to find somewhere to play before Christmas.

“If it gets past Christmas, it’s looking less and less likely. But I’m still as fit as I was when I was at West Ham two years ago and I honestly believe I can still do a job for someone.

“I’ve never been quick, so I can’t lose that, and I love everything about defending – blocks, tackles, headers – and the lower down the leagues you go, that’s more vital.”

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Collins went to school with Newport County AFC manager Michael Flynn and he revealed last season that the Exiles boss had tried to tempt him to Rodney Parade.

The former Cardiff City centre-back rejected Flynn’s advances on that occasion, preferring to wait for an offer higher up the league ladder.

But, speaking recently on the Elis James' Feast of Football podcast, he admitted that he’s now open to approaches from anyone.

“Last year I didn’t sign for Ipswich until January and I think pride took over a little bit [before then],” said Collins.

“I was obviously used to playing with West Ham and I still thought I should be playing at West Ham.

“I was down about the way it ended there but this year has been a little bit easier.

“I still think I can do a job. You get to 36 and people start thinking you’re gone.

“I trained a little bit with Colchester and West Ham under-23s and I’m fit, but until a club sees you or knows that you’re training somewhere they’re not really going to pay attention.

“There are clubs out there that need immediate help,” he added. “I really feel I could go to a club and help out.

“I’m not saying I want to play every week but, with the dressing rooms and situations I’ve been in, you can’t tell me there’s not clubs out there who don’t need that sort of help – whether it’s playing 10 games or 40 games. It baffles me.”

For now, he’s concentrating on the James Collins Football Academy and a three-day camp for kids at Newport’s Rougemont School at the end of the month.

“It’s for kids aged four to 15, boys and girls,” he explained.

“We’re trying to get as many girls on as possible, obviously with the women’s football taking off as it has.

“It’s going really well. We’ve got a lot of bookings so I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve got some good coaches from the FAW to help me out and it’s going to be fun, but we’re focused on teaching the kids and hopefully progressing them.

“There were certainly Newport lads I was growing up with who slipped under the radar.

“So hopefully, if we can dig into that and get a few of them who might have missed out in the past, it will be a success.

“If we can get a couple of gems come out of there, it would be brilliant.”

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