West Bromwich Albion manager Slaven Bilic has said that he did not want to risk Charlie Austin against Derby County amid concerns over the striker’s fitness. The former Southampton striker is regarded as the prime striker for the Baggies but he was left on the bench for the entirety of the Championship clash against the Rams.
Speaking after the 1-1 draw against Derby County, Bilic acknowledged that Austin remains the first-choice striker but he took the option to rest him due to fitness concerns. He added that there would have been question marks, had the Baggies not been able to find the equaliser through the course of the game.
He said: “Make no mistake Charlie Austin is our main striker, but we have to manage him before he comes back to full fitness. It was an option to bring him on, and with 20 minutes to go for me it was not the case we don’t have enough players in the box, it was how are we getting in the box? It wasn’t very often and not in a quality way. When you are 1-0 down and dominating and you don’t put Austin on, on the one hand it’s not normal. That decision turned out to be lucky. “If we didn’t score, it would be like ‘why not Charlie?’”
Austin has struggled with fitness concerns during the course of his career and it is quite wise from the part of Bilic to reduce the workload for the marksman. Nonetheless, the former Burnley man needs to contribute regularly to the team’s cause, if they are to push for promotion from the Championship.
The west Midlands outfit have made a positive beginning to the season with nine points from the opening five games. This sees them outside of the playoff places on goal difference. West Bromwich Albion are scheduled to face Blackburn Rovers at home before the international break. They are currently one of four teams, who are unbeaten during the opening part of the campaign.