SEAN Dyche has backed Charlie Austin to rediscover his early season goal form and help fire Burnley back up the table.
The Clarets striker shot to the top of the goal charts in not only the Championship but the whole of Europe – outscoring Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for a spell in November, after setting a new club record by taking just 17 games to reach 20 goals.
Austin has been on target only once in four games since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for five weeks - missing the whole of January.
Coincidentally, after beginning 2013 with nine points from three league games, Burnley have not won since Austin came back into the side.
But Dyche insists the Clarets aren’t suffering for putting too much emphasis on their top scorer.
“When I came here there was (too much onus on him), when he was breaking records and all that,” said the Burnley boss.
“It did seem quite a powerful thing at the time – it seemed every question was about Charlie.
“I think that quietened off.
“You forget he's only in his fourth professional season, second at this level.
“He's still learning the game.
“There has been loads of exposure on the lad and that can play it's part. I'm not saying it has, but it can. Then he comes out of the team (through injury) and we win, he comes back in the team and we don't win as freely, people look at it.
“But the reality is he's a good, young player who's still getting in the right areas to score goals, very nearly did at the weekend, getting in the right places.
“With a player of his goalscoring prowess goals will come, for sure.”
Danny Ings has been among those who have offered a supply line to Austin since himself returning from injury in October, notably at Brighton on Saturday when two right wing crosses led to the marksman having one header saved while another narrowly missed the target.
But Ings stressed Austin was refusing to get down about a number of near misses.
“If you know Charlie Austin personally you'll know his spirits are always high – he's that type of guy,” said the striker.
“He didn't score (on Saturday) but he could go into the next game and score a hat-trick.
“He's a great lad to have in the team.”
But Ings knows it is up to all of them to contribute towards helping Burnley stay in the play-off picture.
“It's not that long ago that we were on a good run and people were saying 'look at Burnley, they can get in the play-offs', and I still think it's possible,” he said.
“We just need to go on a little run now and I think we can.
“The way we're playing sooner or later a team will be on the end of a good hiding from us.
“I think that will come very soon.”
Ings added: “I think we can mix it with anyone in this league. The Championship in general is very close, the ability levels are all near enough the same.
“There are some big names that some clubs have.
“We're unlucky at the moment but I'm sure we can turn it around.”