IN-FORM Clarets striker Charlie Austin insists that the players are fully behind manager Eddie Howe, and the celebrations in the aftermath of his late winner at the Ricoh Arena suggest that.
The 22-year-old led the charge towards the dug-out following his predatory strike in the fourth minute of stoppage time, as Howe and assistant Jason Tindall were mobbed by the entire Burnley squad.
The Turf Moor hitman, who notched his eighth goal of the campaign in the weekend comeback against Coventry City, admitted that the Clarets camp may be low in numbers but it is definitely high in terms of team spirit.
“It was good for me; it was easy for me, all I had to do was turn and shoot,” said Austin. “It went in and the celebrations for the goal at the end shows how close a team we are. We are only a small squad but we’re a really tight knit team.
On Tuesday (against Barnsley) we were below par, the manager knows that and we knew that, but here, in the second half especially, we showed what we are capable of. The goal celebrations showed that we are fully behind the manager.”
Austin watched the opening 40 minutes of the Championship clash against the Sky Blues from the bench in a precautionary move from boss Howe after the Clarets leading scorer in the league picked up a toe infection after the 2-0 midweek defeat against Barnsley at Oakwell. But the striker, who replaced Keith Treacy, voiced no objection to Howe’s decision.
“On Saturday I injured my toe and it went black on the Monday. The physio strangled the blood out on Tuesday and in the second half somebody went over it again. It got infected on Wednesday so I was left on the bench because he thought it was good for the team.
“Then he brought me on and I just wanted to do my bit; there’s no point moaning. If you get on you’ve got to give 100% for the team. The manager does what he thinks is best for the team. He told me beforehand that he was going to leave me on the bench because of my toe and for no other reason so there was nothing for me to prove.”
After a quiet, uninspiring first half, the home side opened the scoring just before the hour when Cody McDonald opened his account, guiding a header past Lee Grant from Chris Hussey’s centre. But that sparked the Clarets, and Austin, in to life. The former Swindon Town marksman had Joe Murphy beaten but was denied an equaliser by the post midway through the second half but he did have a hand in the leveller when he dummied for Ross Wallace, following a Jay Rodriguez flick on, who stroked the ball in to the roof of the net. Then, with City down to 10 men after Gael Bigirimana, celebrating his 18th birthday, was dismissed for a wreckless challenge on Keiran Trippier, Austin pounced instinctively to slot the ball past Murphy courtesy of captain Chris McCann’s assist.
“It was nice to score the winner; I’d missed a couple of chances earlier but like any good striker you’ve always got to think that there’s going to be another chance,” Austin said. “Luckily enough the ball’s bounced for me inside the six yard box and all I had to do was score.”
Austin and Rodriguez have scored eight goals apiece in all competitions to date and the former is delighted with the contribution of his strike partner. Austin declared that he had felt pressurised during his final season at the County Ground as the Robins relied heavily on his goals. Midfielder Matt Ritchie came closest to Austin’s 17 goal tally with eight.
He said: “Me and Jay Rodriguez have a good strike partnership and it’s there for everyone to see. For the goal he got up really well and me and Jay work off each other. We’re a partnership and we’ve scored 16 goals together now. It’s a joint partnership, it’s not about single strikers.”