Burnley facing tough decision over Austin return
THE return of Charlie Austin will be an all-round boost for Burnley, but one man’s disappointment.
Junior Stanislas says the selection process, if top scorer Austin remains – as expected – available for selection after a good week’s training, is not a job he would relish taking off manager Sean Dyche’s hands.
Particularly with the Clarets in good form, regardless of last Saturday’s injustice at home to Birmingham City.
Dean Marney is available after having his red card rescinded.
Austin is expected to come back into the mix after missing the last five games with a hamstring injury.
Sam Vokes has led the line admirably in the marksman’s absence, Danny Ings has staked his claim for a regular slot in the hole.
With the security of Chris McCann and Marney in midfield, wide men Ross Wallace and Stanislas have been given licence to get involved more with the front men too.
But for Austin to come back in against Peterborough today, someone is going to have to miss out.
“I think that happens week in, week out,” Stanislas said.
“A manager can only pick 11.
“The subs and beyond that the ones who aren’t involved are obviously disappointed anyway.
“But if Charlie comes back in it’s a boost for everyone because he always gives you that extra bit going forward. But no doubt someone will not be happy.
“I suppose that’s why the manager’s got his job. He’s there to make the big decisions, and I don’t think he would fear making a big decision like that.
“Charlie is a proven goalscorer, and if he was to come back and someone went back out, I don’t think anyone could have much argument.”
While Sam Vokes and Danny Ings have performed well enough to keep their place in the starting XI, an explanation perhaps would not be needed if either of those miss out to accommodate the returning Austin.
Even so, Stanislas says Dyche is likely to make a point of speaking to the individual.
“He’s a fair manager. If you’ve been in the team for a while and you come out, he might bring you into his office and have a word with you,” said the winger. “I can only speak for my own situation and he’s done that to me.
“I’d say he’s good at that.”
Stanislas has recently worked his way back into the side after a slight hamstring strain prompted a spell on the sidelines over Christmas. He has been satisfied with his form since his return to the line-up.
“I was out of the team for a while but since I’ve come back in I think I’ve done all right,” said the 23-year-old, who scored an 81st-minute winner against Crystal Palace in Burnley’s first home game of 2013.
“I’ve scored and got a couple of assists and hopefully I can add to that for the foreseeable future and further.”
But he knows he can never get complacent about his performances with a rejuvenated Keith Treacy snapping at his heels. He knows he needs to stay on his game to keep his place.
But rather than fear the competition, he embraces it.
“The more competition that’s there, the harder you have to work on your game to keep them out of the team,” the winger said.
“Competition is good for us so hopefully that will continue.”
For Stanislas is confident that with consistency of performance, consistency of results will automatically follow.
“I think we’ve been playing well for a while now,” said the former West Ham wide man.
“It’s just about consistency now.
“We’ve had a few weeks where we’ve played really well and won or got a draw out of the game – we had about three or four on the trot like that.
“So as many times we can get three points, we can move up the table.
“There are no easy games in the division.
“I know Peterborough are bottom but they’ve beaten some big teams this year, including Wolves.
“They’ve had a good run, but they’re bottom because they haven’t done it on a consistent basis so hopefully we can go there and capitalise on that.”
He added: “We’re scoring a lot of goals.
“There was a point where we were the division’s top scorers but obviously we’ve tightened up at one end and probably haven’t scored as much going forward.
“We’ve been creating chances, I just think we need to be a little bit more ruthless in front of goal.”
The return of fit-again Austin can only boost their cause in that department.
The 23-goal top scorer could be back in action this afternoon, following a hamstring injury, and after Burnley were successful in their mission to avoid losing him during the January transfer window.