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Austin inspired our fine start, says Burnley keeper Heaton
CHARLIE Austin may not have kicked a ball for Burnley in 2013/14, but goalkeeper Tom Heaton believes the striker has still played a part in the Clarets’ success this season.
Austin went through the whole of pre-season under Sean Dyche only to leave for today’s opponents QPR two days before the campaign began.
He seemed set to move on earlier in the summer after Hull City had a £4.5million bid accepted, only for the deal to collapse after a medical.
But Heaton says it was the manner in which Austin responded to the dramatic setback which set the bar for Burnley’s positive approach this season, and served to inspire them to carry on without last season’s top scorer.
“When the Hull thing didn’t quite go to plan he came back in and he really impressed me in terms of the attitude he showed after his dream Premier League move hadn’t quite come off,” he said.
“Two days later he was back in with us and he was absolutely brilliant.
“He was training like nothing had ever happened, he still had that bit between his teeth and that spread a little bit.
“You think ‘fair play to him’ and everyone fed off that.
“I can imagine it was tough for him, without knowing the ins and outs of what happened at Hull.
“We all know football sometimes throws these strange things at you and you don’t know quite what the full story is.
“But in the short time I was here with him, physically he as a specimen to me and a top player and I think he’s gone on to show that to be fair.”
He added: “He impressed me in terms of what he did with the move not quite going to plan. The lad’s done brilliantly over the last couple of years, a Premier League move fell through at the last minute and he came back all guns blazing.
“I thought that was a fantastic attitude and mentality to take, and I think that probably spread among the lads so when he did eventually go we just kept going.
“So in some ways he helped us.
“When he eventually went we just carried on the ball rolling.”
And Heaton is hoping to stay on a roll with the Clarets this weekend, after describing Burnley’s surge to the top of the Championship as his best spell in football.
The 27-year-old played in the League Cup final for Cardiff against Liverpool at Wembley in 2012.
But the summer signing said his new club’s form has topped that experience.
“Very much so,” he said. “I think it will be difficult to move away from that.
“We’re flying high and putting in some great performances but at this moment in time this spell in the season has been the highlight of my career so far.
“It’s brilliant. We’ve played some good football and got some good results and we’ve had a bit of momentum so hopefully we can keep that going.
“The important thing is we want to make the season a highlight, that’s what we’re all trying to do.
“There’s no patting each other on the back, it’s all about that progression and development and keep moving forward, but on a personal note this is where you want to be, at the top end of the table, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Burnley have the chance to stretch their lead at the top of the Championship to five points against second-placed QPR today.
“There’s an excitement looking forward to the game, two teams who have started the season well, but we’re going about it like any other game we’ve set about this season,” said Heaton.
“We’re ready to be at it and be competitive in the match, make sure we put our authority on the game and go at it with the energy and ability we’ve brought this season, and if we do that we’ll give ourselves a great chance to do well.
“We’d back ourselves against anyone at the minute, irrespective of wage bills, how much money they’ve spent and how much money we’ve not spent, whichever way you look at it.
“We’ve got a great mentality, a great atmosphere.”
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