If there was ever a great time to earn a place in the England squad, that time is now, as the current squad is said to be in a stage of transition, with new faces appearing left, right and centre.
The breaking news this week has been Roy Hodgson’s decision to hand Saido Berahino his first call-up to the senior side. Berahino’s inclusion is most certainly justified, after some fine early season form.
The 21-year-old has scored eight goals this season in all competitions – far out-scoring fellow English strikers Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Rickie Lambert so far. Lambert has failed to find the net since moving to his boyhood club Liverpool, while Welbeck has netted just five times for Arsenal and Rooney only three times for Manchester United this season.
However, one player that has caught the eye of many since his arrival in the Premier League is Queens Park Rangers’ striker, Charlie Austin. Austin is a proven goalscorer and has worked his way through the leagues, very similarly to Rickie Lambert. He first made a name for himself at Swindon Town, where he scored an impressive 31 goals in 54 games. For there he moved to Burnley and scored 41 in 82 games, before joining QPR in a £4 million move, where he has so far scored 23 goals in 41 games.
Many questioned his ability to keep up his more than impressive goalscoring record in the Premier League. His ability came under even more scrutiny after he missed a penalty against Hull on the opening day of the season. However, since then he has gone on to score six league goals, making him the second highest English goalscorer in the league.
A great individual performance against the current champions, Manchester City, saw him manage to get the ball in the back of the net three times, although only one actually stood. Austin is a player that will work hard for the team and certainly put a shift in. Alongside this, he knows where the net is and is a clinical finisher when he gets the chance – qualities that have left many wondering why Hodgson has yet to call him up.
At the age of 25, Austin has not featured for England at either youth or senior level. But surely Austin’s performances for QPR are enough to justify giving him the chance in an England shirt. England are giving young and far less experienced players a chance, and does it really make sense to pick a 32-year-old striker in Rickie Lambert that has barely featured for his club, let alone made any contribution, over somebody like Austin?
Personally, I am a big fan of Austin and have been since his days at Swindon. I believe a lot of people may dismiss picking somebody like Austin because he isn’t one of the big names in the Premier League, he doesn’t come with a ridiculous price-tag or earn hundreds of thousands each week. However, throughout his career, Austin has consistently scored goals, from non-league to the Premier League.
I believe Austin can continue to improve and if he is capable of finding the back of the net for England, does it really matter what team he plays for, or how much he earns?