Homegrown forward leaves County to hunt regular action in National League
HOMEGROWN forward Lewis Collins has left Newport County AFC to spend the rest of the season on loan at Torquay in the National League.
The 21-year-old started the Exiles’ last game in League Two at Carlisle as an attacking midfielder but will now head to Devon to help the Gulls try and beat the drop.
County boosted their forward options on deadline day by bringing in Manchester United’s Charlie McNeill and Middlesbrough’s Calum Kavanagh on loan to join Omar Bogle, Offrande Zanzala and Will Evans.
That has led to Collins, who is out of contract this summer, falling down the pecking order and making the decision to drop down a tier in a bid to kickstart his career.
“We’ve gone in for him a couple of times, but he was a regular participant in their matchday squad at Newport," said Torquay boss Gary Johnson.
"When he did become available, Newport let us know and, after me and Downesy [assistant Aaron Downes] talked with the lad at the services before we were picked up for Woking, an agreement was made.
“He’s a player that’s quick, and can play one of either position of striker or wide player, and we hope he enjoys his time with us.”
The rapid attacker was a key figure in the promotion bid of 2020/21 when he formed a hard-working strike partnership with Padraig Amond.
After scoring his first League Two goal against Scunthorpe, the Wales Under-21s international scored against Forest Green Rovers in the play-off semi-finals and then started at Wembley.
But Collins, younger brother of in-form Bristol Rovers striker and fellow County academy graduate Aaron, was a fringe figure last season.
He made just four starts and came off the bench 13 times in League Two, with his only goal a long-range cracker against Sutton.
Collins scored in August’s Carabao Cup upset of Luton at Kenilworth Road but only eight of his 27 appearances this season were as a starter, and two of them were in the EFL Trophy.
Arguably, he has suffered from not settling into a position, not prolific enough to be a striker but not able to be a winger in the formations of James Rowberry’s 4-2-2-2 from last season or the 5-3-2 from the current campaign.
He will hope to profit from a change of environment with the aim of improving his decision-making and being involved in more goals through regular game time.