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Irvine backs Austin to break his Burnley goal record
WILLIE Irvine believes Charlie Austin is on course to surpass his club scoring record this season.
The former Northern Ireland international set a post-war record when he hit 29 league goals for Burnley in the 1965/66 season.
That return has not been beaten.
But Irvine believes that, 47 years on, Austin could be the man to take that crown.
The Clarets’ top scorer is the country’s top scorer going into this afternoon’s game with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
His hat-trick against Sheffield Wednesday in midweek – his second of the season – took his overall tally to 14 this term, 11 in the Championship.
Irvine, who ended the 65/66 season with 37 league and cup goals, admits he has never seen or experienced a scoring streak like it.
And he doesn’t envisage Austin taking his foot off the gas any time soon.
“If you give Charlie the service the goals will keep coming,” said the former Burnley forward, who scored 97 goals in six years as a senior at Turf Moor.
“He gets into so many scoring positions the centre halves must be wondering what they can do to stop him.
“It’s just a shame we’ve conceded so many because if Charlie’s getting the goals and we tighten up at the other end then the team could be at the top.
“They would be looking for promotion.”
And the prospect of Burnley challenging for the promotion positions is why Irvine would have no qualms about seeing his proud goalscoring record change hands.
“I think Charlie would like to set a new record, and if he does I would be the first to con-gratulate him,” said the 69-year-old.
“If he keeps getting the service there’s every chance he can do it.
“He is a big, confident lad – a true centre forward.
“He is a centre half’s nightmare and it’s been fantastic to watch this season. But there’s a long way to go yet.”
Irvine broke the Clarets record for league goals in the season against Aston Villa, and set the bar even higher in the next game with a goal at home to Liverpool.
His 29th of the season helped Burnley secure third place in the old First Division.
Six years after being crowned champions of England they chased the title again that season, but fell just short.
By January the follow-ing season, the prolific Irvine had clocked up 16 goals, and Burnley rem-ained in and around the top spots.
But disaster struck when he broke his leg at Everton. He was arguably never the same again.