CLARETS striker Charlie Austin has called on his Burnley teammates to try and emulate Reading.
The Clarets lie seven points outside the play-off places after a midweek win for Middlesbrough over Leeds.
But with Boro next up at Turf Moor on Tuesday night, the Clarets will have a chance to claw their way back into contention.
And Austin feels the one club which grasps the nettle over the final 15 games could turn the promotion picture upside down.
A year tonight, Reading beat Burnley 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium.
Had the Clarets won, they would have moved to within a point of the Royals, who went on to win the Championship title after winning 11 of their last 15 games.
To match that would be difficult in the extreme, but Austin feels Burnley can put together the sort of form to snatch a place in the top six.
The 24-goal top-scorer said: “No-one wants to kick on. There’s no-one doing a Reading from last year.
“Why can’t we do it with 15 games to go?
“Put on a run like they did and give ourselves a real good chance because the lads really want it.
“All around the club we really want it.
“With 15 games to go we want to give it a good push and give ourselves the best opportunity of getting into the play-offs.”
The Clarets climbed to the fringes of the chase after four wins in five league games, but one point from nine in the following three outings has seen the side slip from seventh to ninth.
But Austin, who has returned for the last two games after missing five with a hamstring injury, added: “We should be up there with the form we’ve been in since the manager’s come in.
“All the lads have bought into everything the gaffer’s offered us, so hopefully we can push on with that and what we have here anyway and give it a right go.
“We’ve had a point out of nine, but we’re still in and around there, it’s not like we’ve dropped massively.
“The lads over the five weeks I was out injured have put some great results in and big Vokesy’s been on fire.”
Boro play at Crystal Palace tomorrow as they look to extend the gap, with Burnley inactive after the home clash with Huddersfield Town was postponed after the Terriers’ FA Cup win at Leciester on Tuesday night means they face Wigan tomorrow.
Whatever the outcome at Selhurst Park, Austin is gunning for the three points on Tuesday: “We want to keep the pressure on Middlesbrough.
“Tuesday night at Turf under lights - there’s something special about Tuesday nights. I don’t know if anyone else feels it but I know the lads do.”
Burnley lost 3-2 at the Riverside in their second league game of the season, but Austin feels they should fear no-one in the division: “If I’m honest, when we went to Cardiff I’d say they were the best team we’ve played by a mile and it’s theirs to lose.
“We took the lead at Leicester, lost 2-1, but they didn’t really threaten us. There was a deflected goal off Shacks, and when we played them at our place it was only 1-0.
“Cardiff were the only team really that I’d say are up there and deserve to be up there.
“We’ve dropped 22 points from winning positions, which is tough to take.
“But we have to forget all the stats now, with 15 games to go we’ve got to try to get as many points as we can.
“We don’t want to fade away and be a mid-table team again.
“We don’t want that because we’re in a real good position now.
“There are three or four teams around us with similar points, but we know if we can get on a two or three game run that will get us in there, and I think that’s what we need.”
Meanwhile, Austin, while still not setting himself any goal targets, is eager to add to his haul of 24, in the hope he can help fire Burnley towards those play-off places.
At one stage the top-scorer in Europe, after his injury absence he is now trailing Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray at the Championship’s top scorer in all competitions - Murray has 25 - while Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes now has 24, including goals for Huddersfield.
Austin said: “I’ve got 24, there’s 15 games to go and hopefully I can go on a run like I did before.
“That would be perfect.
“If I could score as many goals as I can from now to the end of the season it would be good for me and good for the team. We need to get back on track.”
While the Clarets won three of their five games without their talisman, Austin was champing at the bit to get back and help the side: “The injury was frustrating because I was in good form, not only goalscoring but I thought my all-round game. I was at my best.
“I was doing really well and moving really well so to get that was a downer.
“No footballer likes to be injured.
“But I’m back now and looking forward to carrying on playing to the end of the season.
“I’m getting my fitness up. It’s all about getting my match fitness, that’s the main thing.
“I don’t think people realise that you can train but you need to get that match fitness up and I’m pretty much there now. I’m still working hard every day in training, hoping it all comes together.”
Burnley received no bids for Austin during the transfer window, but he will have only a year remaining on his contract in the summer, and there is no sign of the club tying him down to a new deal.
But Austin is only concentrating on the job at hand: “I’m just getting on and working hard and hopefully things can continue for me at Burnley Football Club. I can only control what’s happening on the pitch with my own performances.”