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COMMENT: Charlie sets the case for defence at Burnley
2:00pm Thursday 4th October 2012 in Sport
HE used to build walls. These days Charlie Austin is building a reputation as one of football’s most feared strikers.
A return of 14 goals this season – an incredible 10 in his last five games – has made him one of the hottest prospects in the Champion-ship.
With January fast approaching, Burn-ley had better watch out.
It is to be hoped the board have already made eff-orts to keep the Hungerford-born hot shot in the form of contract extension offer, at least.
It is one thing to hold out for the highest bid for one striker. To let another slip through their fingers in the following window without a fight would be unforgivable.
But I’m sure the new chairmen would be on the ball with this, even if ultimately their attempts prove to be unsuccessful.
For it isn’t just about what the board can or can’t offer in their attempts to avoid a New Year sale.
His team-mates must do their bit too.
To an extent they already have.
Austin has benefited from some excellent service in averaging two goals in his last five outings, and in the games that have yielded goals before that.
But for a man who had just scored a second hat-trick of the season, and career third, Austin could not have looked more miserable in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s game.
For having worked so hard to give his side the lead THREE times, the Clarets caved in to concede cheaply.
From building walls, he has been made to bang his head against one.
He was quick to recognise that it was a team effort – they attack as a unit and defend as one.
But he can’t do all the hard work on his own.
He can’t keep having such a volume of goals not counting for as many points as they should, or he could be tempted by those January suitors, of which there are bound to be several.
The queue must be growing by the game – certainly by the goal – and at the moment the two things tally.
Loyalty is not widespread in football, but Austin is bound to feel a sense of that towards manager Eddie Howe.
Although he was unable to offer him his first professional contract due to Bournemouth’s transfer embargo at the time, he was the one that made Austin see the dream could become reality by taking him on trial. Swindon snapped him up.
But as soon as Howe had the means to make him his striker after leaving the south coast, he signed him for Burnley.
The work he has done with him on the training ground, the players he has brought in and used to compliment him – allied to Austin’s raw natural talent – have contributed to the striker he is today.
But until there are fewer contributions in the goals against column, Austin’s future could hang in the balance.
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