West Brom playing with fire with Charlie Austin’s deadline day arrival

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Slaven Bilic has his wish. After a defeat to Villarreal in their opening match of pre-season, he stated that he wanted to play with two strikers.

Now, following the arrival of Charlie Austin, he may well finally be able to do that.

The opening day saw Kenneth Zohore play up front on his own with the wingers providing much of the attacking threat by themselves.

Austin, however, arrives in a £4m deal and adds a much-needed body in that area of the pitch after Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez’s exits.

Yet, the Baggies could also be playing with fire with this transfer.

On the chalkboard

There is no denying Austin’s prowess in front of goal. After all, he once scored 18 goals in a single Premier League campaign for QPR.

He also has a terrific record in the Championship, something that could prove key in terms of Albion’s promotion bid.

He scored 19 for QPR back in 2013/14 whilst he added a further ten in 12 starts across the first half of the 2015/16 campaign.

Despite that, it’s his injury record that suggests West Brom can’t rely on him fully.

At Southampton last term, he managed to stay fit but he’s had multiple hamstring problems which if they aren’t managed properly, could cause problems for Bilic’s men, particularly when it comes to implementing the two-man system he wants to play.

Since 2010/11, the forward has missed a total of 247 days to hamstring troubles, the latest of which kept him out from December 2017 until March 2018.

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It’s been a wretched few years for Austin who hasn’t been able to build a run of games.

He started just 11 times last term, appearing on 14 occasions from the bench so his fitness could still be questionable.

Whether the 30-year-old has it in his legs to play out a demanding season in the Championship remains to be seen and as such, it’s a risk.

Come next May, it may well have been one worth taking but the Baggies have definitely taken somewhat of a gamble by bringing in Austin.

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