Unlucky not to have been nominated previously this season, Collins left nothing to chance last month, leading the line superbly in Danny Hylton’s absence and scoring six goals in five games as his side assumed leadership of the division.
Luton Town interim manager Mick Harford said: “James has had a brilliant January and it’s all a consequence of his hard work, both on and off the pitch.
“On a match day he works tirelessly for the team in both penalty areas and in between, but he’s also out there after training every day, honing his finishing and working on his fitness.
“James is credit to himself. He’s a prominent member of the dressing room and a really good influence on the other lads, who respect him greatly.
“I’m delighted for him as an individual, but I know he’ll echo what I’m about to say, and that’s that he wouldn’t have been able to win this award without the rest of the team. They’ve all been first class in January.”
Collins said: “This is the first time I’ve won an award like this. I’ve been nominated a few times, so I’m delighted to finally get my name on one.
“That said, I wouldn’t have been able to do it with the rest of the boys. Kazenga LuaLua, Jack Stacey and Luke Berry have been brilliant in setting up all my goals in January, but the rest of the team have been phenomenal.
“We’ve had a great month, remaining unbeaten, and that always helps when you’re going into games because you’re full of confidence. The other lads get as much credit as I do for this award, and Mick Harford, who fully deserved his nomination for manager of the month.
“What Mick does is he just fills you with confidence. He just tells you how good you are, how well you’re playing and he just keeps things simple. That’s what I like. I know what I need to do out on the pitch and if Mick’s supporting me and right behind me, then that just gives me a license to go out there and do what I’m best at.
“January always seems to be a good month for me for some reason, I don’t know what it is. I always try to make sure I do things right over Christmas and the New Year, as it’s a big period in the season, and that seems to pay off later in the month as well.
“We’ve made a great start to the year, but the main thing is that we keep winning games. If that means me scoring some more goals, then all the better, but I honestly don’t mind who scores.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It couldn’t have been a more turbulent start to the month for Luton, but thanks in no small part to Collins’ goals, they shrugged off Nathan Jones’ departure and rose to the top of League One.
“Danny Hylton, such an integral part of the team in previous years, has hardly been missed through injury and suspension, such has been the impact of Collins and his strike partner Kazenga LuaLua.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “James Collins led the line superbly in Danny Hylton’s absence for Luton and scored six goals in five games as the Hatters tightened their grip at the top of League One and are now odds-on to win the title at 4/5.
“Collins now has 18 goals for the season and is the top scorer in the league with 18 goals and is the favourite to win the golden boot at 7/4.”