SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) - Southampton forward Charlie Austin’s performance on Sunday bodes well for the team after he marked his recall with two goals in a 4-1 win at home to Everton, said manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
On his first Premier League start of the season, Austin’s smart movement and incisive finishing tormented Everton’s defence as the 28-year-old suggested he could be the consistent goalscorer Southampton need with a second-half double.
Pellegrino’s side had scored just nine goals in 12 Premier League games prior to Sunday’s victory, but Austin has now scored or assisted eight times in his last 11 league starts.
And, as the busy Christmas period approaches, Pellegrino believes Austin’s form and attitude could make him a decisive player as Southampton bid to climb the table.
“I felt he was ready to play,” Pellegrino told reporters.
“This is good news for us. We have many games in the next few months. We will need all the players,” he added after Dusan Tadic opened the scoring and Steven Davis wrapped up the win.
“I decided to choose another eleven (today), I thought other players were better before. Charlie has been training much better in the last few weeks and deserved his chance.
“Sometimes when you are not playing, you are a little bit disappointed. We have a squad of 25 players. It is difficult to keep going when you are used to playing more games, like last season when Southampton were in the Europa League.
“You have to take responsibility for yourself. You have to be ready, you do not know when the manager will come calling. The manager chooses eleven players, nothing is fixed, next week it will change.
“To manage the mentality of 25 players is difficult. When you (as a player) get the opportunity you have to show why the manager gave you that chance. I want to feel from my players that they are committed, we want to play with ambition.
“I am really happy, the players have been working really hard this week. We deserved this week.”
Southampton, in 10th with 16 points, visit league leaders Manchester City on Wednesday.
Writing by Tom Hayward; Editing by Ken Ferris