Charlie Austin raring to go
GOOD things do come to those who wait.
While advertising slogans remind the population that it takes just under two minutes to pour the perfect pint, patience has been a virtue for striker Charlie Austin who has had to wait much longer for his first Clarets goal to arrive.
The 22-year-old, signed from Swindon Town at the back end of January’s transfer window, had to wait five-and-a-half months to open his account as he broke the deadlock in the Clarets 3-0 friendly win against Bury at Gigg Lane a week ago.
Austin, who underwent surgery in March on a dislocated shoulder, has endured a frustrating start to life at Turf Moor, making brief appearances against Doncaster Rovers, Norwich City, Cardiff City and Preston North End since joining. In fact his deflected effort, hit with ferocity from the edge of the box in the seventh minute of the encounter against the League One new boys, was his first time on the scoresheet in eight outings; his last being a double in the Robins’ 4-2 away triumph at against Charlton just after New Year.
Now Austin hopes to evaporate the dispirited memories of a tentative start to life in East Lancashire: “It’s been a long five months so it was nice to get out there again. My main aim was to get back on the pitch and get 45 minutes for fitness.
“The goal was a great bonus and good for confidence. I came here with a lot of expectation but straight away I got injured. Obviously you feel a part of the team but when you’re sat in the stands it’s a bit different from being out there on the pitch.”
He added: “It was frustrating for me, I came here with expectation, I wanted to impress and obviously I got my injury and it did kill me, and I was hurt. But my shoulder’s strong now so now I’m just looking forward to getting a good pre-season under my belt and kicking on into the season.
“There’s fitness and match fitness, when you’re playing games it’s completely different than just running all the time. I do feel pretty fit, but there’s room for improvement.”
Austin hit the back of the net 37 times in all competitions during a prolific two-season stint at the County Ground and he’ll be looking to rediscover that form in a bid to fire the Clarets towards the Championship summit.
“You just try to look on the good side of things and for me I look back on what I did at Swindon, my goalscoring. I just thought, ‘That was what I did six months ago and that was what I was doing a year ago’, said Austin.
“I’m just looking forward now and a year on hopefully I can do exactly the same. You have to knuckle down and keep fit, and that’s what I’ve tried to do. If I could forget about those last five months, they’ve gone and great, it’s a fresh start now.
“I’ve scored my first goal and my confidence is high, so after scoring that and getting my first 45 minutes under my belt, I just want to push on now. Everyone has heard what I have done in League One but now I just want to do it in the Championship. And I don’t see why not with the great help of the team and the management.”
There’s a healthy competiton for places among the Turf Moor ranks, with Austin challenging for a place in Eddie Howe’s starting XI alongside Jay Rodriguez, Martin Paterson, Chris Iwelumo and the emerging Alex MacDonald. The £1.2m. hitman is now determined to prove his worth.
“They are a good bunch of lads here and with the strikers in there, there’s good competition,” Austin said. “But I’ve just got to knuckle down and work hard, and hopefully if I do get into the starting 11 just keep hold of the shirt.
“Obviously I want to break into the first team, that’s high on my priorities at the moment. Then I’ll set my ambitions for higher on in the season. People say if you’re a goalscorer, you’re a goalscorer, and you’ve just got to get in those positions. I like to think I am and hopefully I can score goals in the Championship.”
Austin added: “It would be nice to get the first goal in the Championship and then look on. When I went to League One I never set any targets for myself to be honest. Everything just fell into place.
“With everyone if they go to a club they have expectations. There’s pressure and of course that competition spurs you on. But they’re your team-mates. I work hard for them and they work hard for me, so everyone improves each other.”