QPR striker Charlie Austin returning to his lethal best, says team-mate
- Credit: Archant
Rob Green is backing his QPR team-mate Charlie Austin to return to his lethal best in time for the Championship play-offs.
Rangers secured their place in the top six courtesy of a dramatic 2-1 win over Watford at Loftus Road on Bank Holiday Monday, with Austin hitting the winner on 90 minutes.
It was the striker’s first goal since he scored against Bolton Wanderers on January 28 – the same match in which he suffered a shoulder injury that ruled him out for 12 games.
Harry Redknapp’s side are now guaranteed a place in the play-offs, with the chance to secure promotion to the Premier League – and a £120million windfall – in the final at Wembley on May 24.
And Green says Austin, who has now scored 16 goals in all competitions this season, is rapidly rediscovering his best form. “He has been a fantastic signing,” said Green.
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“He said to me the other week: ‘I will always get one shot in a game’. It’s no coincidence that we have had a dip in form when he got injured.
“I’m not blaming him for us not going up automatically, but we would have had more of a chance if he had stayed fit. He is a fantastic player. He always wants to learn.
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“When you have him in the team you always have a chance no matter how you play.
“He’s finding his feet. With him coming back we have given ourselves half a chance. He’s got another couple of games to get fit.
“When you have players like him, Joey [Barton], JJ [Jermaine Jenas] and Armand [Traore] who have been out, hopefully they will get us firing.”
Austin appeared to suffer an injury while celebrating his winning goal against the Hornets, and looked to be holding his hamstring as he was immediately taken off by Redknapp.
However, Rangers assistant manager Kevin Bond insisted the striker had not suffered a significant injury.
“It was probably more from fatigue,” Bond said. “He was just shattered – all out. Hopefully he is ok and I think he is. We obviously need to assess him.
“It was great for Charlie to get back on the scoresheet. We’ve missed his goals and missed his presence.
“Apart from what he does on the field, psychologically when the teamsheet goes up and he’s not been on it, no disrespect to anyone else, but we know he has won us games.
“It was a great finish under severe pressure and he kept his composure really well. We now need everybody fit and in good form for the play-offs. We need to get the momentum.”
Asked about Austin’s substitution, Green added: “I think that was just 90 minutes of running around when he has been sat on his a*** for six months, or whatever it has been!
“He has had three months of doing very little. It’s such a difficult one with a shoulder injury, you can’t really run or do anything. Your match fitness is never really going to be there, and there are not really reserve games any more.”