March 22, 2018 / 8:44 AM / a month ago

Austin itching for Saints return after injury lay-off

(Reuters) - Southampton striker Charlie Austin is eager to return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off and help the club in their fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Southampton vs Huddersfield Town - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - December 23, 2017 Southampton's Charlie Austin celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Austin hit top form at the end of last year, scoring five goals in seven league games across November and December, before sustaining a hamstring injury in Southampton’s 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town.

Southampton have won just one of their 11 league games in Austin’s absence to drop into the bottom three with eight matches left in the season.

“It’s been a frustrating time... It wasn’t like being out for two weeks — it’s been 14 weeks now,” Austin told the club’s website. (southamptonfc.com)

“I was in such good form and that was the hard thing, because I’d had to bide my time for ages to get in. Whilst that was going on, as a team we were underperforming and that’s why we’re in the situation we are.

“Now I’m back, we’ve got a big eight weeks and I’ll put all my energy into helping the team drive forward to stay in the Premier League.”

Southampton are under immense pressure to rescue their season under new manager Mark Hughes and Austin says the team must embrace it.

“You’ve got to embrace it — as men and as footballers. We’re under a lot of pressure at the moment, don’t get me wrong, but we need to push forward, “ the 28-year-old said.

“...I feel there’s enough character, talent and work ethic, and with the new coaching staff coming in with new ideas, it’s going to really help us.”

Southampton travel to fellow strugglers West Ham United, who are two points ahead in 17th position, in the league on March 31.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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