'Cannot express..': Former Sunderland defender releases statement after shock League One sacking

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Former Sunderland defender Neill Collins has reacted to his shock sacking last month

Former Sunderland defender Neill Collins has said he ‘cannot express how disappointed he was’ to be sacked by Barnsley just days before the end of the League One campaign.

Collins was relieved of his duties with Barnsley sat fifth in the table, though a run of poor form had meant that their play-off participation was in some jeopardy ahead of the final day of the regular campaign. Barnsley did eventually finish in the top six, but were knocked out of the play-off semi finals by Bolton Wanderers.

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Barnsley had planned to hire Austrian coach Dominik Thalhammer as Collins’ immediate replacement, but the deal fell through due to a work permit issue and meant that interim boss Martin Devaney oversaw the unsuccessful play-off campaign.

A permanent successor is yet to be appointed.

"It was a great honour to be appointed Head Coach at Barnsley FC just under a year ago,” Collins said.

“Bringing my family back to the UK after seven fantastic years in the USA and leaving a club that had became so close to my heart was a decision I did not take lightly. However, the opportunity to progress my coaching career at a club with such great history and tradition was one that I couldn’t turn down.

"I cannot express how disappointed I was to have been relieved of my duties with one game of the season remaining and the club sitting fifth in the table, however, I am immensely proud of the work the players and staff put in this season and I believe we earned the opportunity to try and complete our objective of promotion together. I would like to express my thanks to the players and staff for all their hard work and support during my time at the club. "I poured my heart and soul into the job from the minute I arrived and learned a lot from my time at Barnsley. I look forward to spending some time with my family and getting ready for the next challenge, wherever that may be."

Bolton Wanderers will play Oxford United in the play-off final at Wembley, with the winner joining Portsmouth and Derby County in the Championship next season.

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