Austin needs more support, says Burnley legend Payton
ANDY Payton began his career with Hull City, but there is only one outcome he is interested when his two old teams go head to head tonight – a Burnley win.
For while the former striker made a name for himself with the Tigers, going on to play for Middlesbrough, Celtic, Barnsley and Huddersfield before finally arriving at his hometown team, he will always be a Claret.
A former Golden Boot winner, many see a modern day Payton in current top scorer Charlie Austin.
The prospect of turning back time has crossed his mind.
“I probably would have done well alongside him. I think we would have been pretty lethal together,” said the 45-year-old, affectionately known among fans as the ‘Padiham Predator’.
“He is different to me. He is a bigger lad.
“I think I was a bit quicker, but he is probably better in the air.
“He’s scored some great goals.”
Payton feels there is more to come from the man who already has 26 to his name this season.
He trails Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray in the race for the Championship’s Golden Boot, but is streets ahead in-house.
Martin Paterson, Burnley’s next top scorer, has just five.
Payton feels the pair – and ultimately the Clarets as whole – would benefit from a regular strike partnership.
“Being a striker I would prefer two up front and it seems to have been one for a long time until the last two games,” he said.
“I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do, but it’s better to play two up and have a go at teams – especially at home.
“That’s where w’ve been possibly coming unstuck, by not going for it.
“The manager was a centre half, so obviously he is thinking more defensively than, say, I would.
“But Charlie Austin has had a fantastic season already, and I think there’s more to come. He could break the club scoring record if he carries on, and I hope he does that.
“He could have just done with someone alongside him.
“It’s unbelievable really that there’s such a massive gap between him and the next leading goalscorer.
“Other strikers – certainly forward players but wingers as well – would have to be disappointed with the number of goals we haven’t scored this season.
“With a bit more firepower we could be in the top six certainly.”
But Payton feels such lofty ambitions have come at a price, with fans venting their frustrations after recent home games.
One season in the Premier League has given them a thirst for more.
Eleventh place in the table is not satisfying the majority of supporters. But Payton insists there are plenty of positives surrounding the club.
“The fans have been frustrated, but we could be down there, in trouble quite easily,” he said.
“We’re not, and you should count your blessings.
“You want your team to do the best it possibly can and finish as high as it possibly can, but you’ve got to be realistic.
“We’re not spending lots of money, there are bigger clubs with bigger budgets and wage bills than ours.
“I’m quite happy staying in this division at this moment in time because it’s so hard to get out of, but if you go down it’s even harder to get back into it.
“It would be fantastic if we could get into the play-offs again, but you look at the amount of money other teams have to spend on players and it's difficult.”
Payton added: “It’s a tough division.
“Hull have been doing really well and are very dangerous.
“I presume it will be a really open game.
“Burnley have won their last seven meetings so hopefully that run continues.
“But it will be a tough game with Hull flying and having a chance of automatic promotion.
“It’s a good test for us, and hopefully we’ll get the result.”
Payton, who will conduct the half time draw tonight, won young player of the year and player of the year accolades at Hull City and has happy memories of his time at Boothferry Park. But his loyalties lie on home Turf.
“Burnley always come first for me,” he said.