Redknapp backs Austin to succeed

Charlie Austin scored his first top-flight goal on Saturday

Charlie Austin scored his first top-flight goal on Saturday

First published in National Sport © by

Harry Redknapp has backed Charlie Austin to become the latest former non-League star to make a successful transition to life in the top-flight.

Bricklayer-turned-goalscorer Austin handed QPR a Barclays Premier League lift on Saturday, firing his first top-level goal in a 1-0 home victory over Sunderland.

The 25-year-old's powerful drive ended QPR's 315-minute goal drought at the start of the new campaign, easing pressure on boss Redknapp.

QPR are expected to sign a replacement striker for Chelsea-bound Loic Remy before Monday's transfer window closure, but still backed Austin to make the Premier League grade.

"There are lots of strikers that have come out of lower-league football," said Redknapp of the former Kintbury striker.

"Obviously recently there's the likes of Rickie Lambert and before that Kevin Phillips, and it's great to see that hopefully chances are still there to move through the levels.

"And hopefully Charlie can be another who does the same thing in the long term.

"He took his goal very well, it's great for him.

"Thursday was the first time he'd trained for two weeks after his hamstring problem, so to get 60-odd minutes out of him was a bonus."

Rangers' club captain Clint Hill started Saturday's vital victory in a re-jigged four-man defence, with Richard Dunne on the bench.

Redknapp started the season keen to favour 3-5-2, but has quickly shifted to a flat back four.

Summer recruit Rio Ferdinand will skipper Rangers as and when Hill is absent, and the 35-year-old was expected to battle for minutes on the field.

Redknapp hailed Hill's pivotal contribution against the Black Cats, though, especially for a match-saving block in the six-yard box.

"You can put your life on Clint can't you, he's such a great professional," said Redknapp.

"He's reliable and that's so important for us, and he showed just what he offers.

"We've got to have competition in there, that's vital."

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