QPR’s Charlie Austin returns to training

Charlie Austin

Charlie Austin - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Charlie Austin has returned to training with the QPR first team as the striker steps up his recovery from a shoulder injury.

Austin suffered the injury during Rangers’ 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on January 31, and initially it was feared the 24-year-old would miss the rest of the campaign.

Austin, who has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season, underwent surgery and missed the club’s last 12 games, during which time QPR’s promotion challenge has faltered.

However, on Monday the former Burnley striker returned to training with Harry Redknapp’s first team. With QPR beginning their season run-in with a trip to Bournemouth this weekend, Austin’s team-mate Richard Dunne says his return is perfectly timed.

“He seems to be doing really well. A few more training sessions and tests on his shoulder and hopefully he will be raring to go,” said Dunne.

“The doctor gave me free rein today to bang into him – he didn’t complain so that’s good. It gives the whole team a boost, we know how important Charlie has been throughout the season so to have him back among the group is great.”

Dunne added: “Hopefully we can get him out on the pitch soon – the sooner the better really.

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“Having Charlie and Armand [Traore] and JJ [Jermaine Jenas] back, hopefully the squad is coming back to full strength. He’s a great lad and he settled right in as soon as he came here.”

QPR signed Kevin Doyle and Madibo Maiga in an effort to plug the gap vacated by Austin. Doyle has since returned to Wolves injured, while Maiga has found the net just once. Dunne believes Austin is virtually irreplaceable.

“He gives everything in every game. Any team would miss a focal point of the team like him,” Dunne added.

“We had four or five players coming in to replace him, they’ve all scored goals and done their bit, but it’s very difficult to replace Charlie. He’s an important part of the team.

“At this stage of the season it’s important to have every player available.”

Rangers face Bournemouth on the back of Saturday’s draw with Blackpool, and Dunne admitted that his side were punished for a sluggish start during their draw with the Tangerines.

He added: “We probably started slowly and couldn’t pick it up then. The way Blackpool played, they sat behind the ball, playing quick passes and breaking.

“I think it was the eighth game of the month so it takes its toll on everyone. We had enough chances to win the game.”