Eight years ago, Southampton forward Charlie Austin was plying his footballing trade with semi-professional Wessex League Premier Division team Poole Town while also working as a bricklayer to help make ends meet following his family’s relocation to Bournemouth.
In the season of 2008–09, Austin scored 46 goals in 46 appearances for Poole in all competitions, and it was there his journey to stardom began with a transfer to Swindon Town, his first stint in the Football League, where he hit 31 goals in 54 league appearances over three seasons. Via Burnley and Queen’s Park Rangers, Austin is now firing for Saints, and he is turning into one of their most crucial players, hitting seven in his last six appearances.
His former employers were the latest victims in Austin’s rich vein of form, the 27-year-old bagging a brace to lift Claude Puel’s Saints up to eighth in the fledgling Premier League table of the 2016/17 season, scoring twice from eight efforts he had on goal. At a time when the England National Team is in disarray and struggling to find the net, the Three Lions setup could do little worse than summon the Saints man to the squad. It is an honour he has been given before, only he didn’t get to grace the turf in England colours under former national team manager Roy Hodgson.
It isn’t just his goals that make him a critical component of this Southampton side, but his all-round game is what is also impressing. He contributes to a high pressing Saints side by defending from the front and doesn’t hesitate to get back and defend when necessary. Southampton supporters will of course be thrilled by his current scoring run since returning from injury, particularly after endearing himself to their support as early as on his debut, when he turned in a late winner at Old Trafford in a win over Manchester United back in January this year.
What is also notable about Austin is his similarity to his Leicester counterpart Jamie Vardy. Hungerford-born Austin is another who has worked his way up to the dizzy heights of the Premier League from a non-league background via a few years in the Football League, and although Sheffield-born Vardy is already that little bit ahead of the man two years his junior having played and scored for England, given his form for Southampton, England interim-boss Gareth Southgate surely cannot ignore him for long if he continues like this.
An England appearance certainly would make a group of supporters back at non-league Poole Town very pleased, having lodged a bet at the bookmakers that one day Austin would go on to play for England during his non-league days, they may well be in for a substantial payout if the Saints man goes on to complete the feat.
At a time when England’s lack of cutting edge is coming under the microscope more than ever, the Three Lions need a source of goals in their side, and form-wise, Austin is one of those select few English forwards in the top-flight who is enjoying a purple patch. With Harry Kane out through injury, Jamie Vardy short of form, Daniel Sturridge inconsistent and Wayne Rooney’s role still up in the air, a phonecall may not be far away, particularly with a World Cup Qualifying clash with rivals Scotland and a friendly against Spain next on the agenda. Whether it will come is in the hands of Gareth Southgate, but given the state of affairs surrounding the national team at present, he could do little worse.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Ian Johnson.