Noel Whelan has claimed that West Brom manager Slaven Bilic has got a dilemma to contend with over the fitness of Charlie Austin this season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds United striker and Championship expert says that the 30-year-old has the potential to be a game-changing player for the Baggies but that he has got to be firing on all cylinders.
Austin swapped Southampton and the Premier League for a Championship campaign at West Brom in a deadline day move.
Whelan says that Austin’s capture was the big move Bilic was looking for all summer and that it could be a hefty outlay for someone who has a history of fitness and injury problems.
“Keeping him fit is the biggest issue, but you’ve also just paid a multi-million-pound price tag for a player,” Whelan told Football Insider.
“That is a lot of money to be managing a player throughout the season. You pay that money, you want a player who’s going to be fit, ready to go for 45, 46 games.
“He’s their main signing so it’s a difficult one because he will make a difference. You want a fit Charlie Austin, that’s the problem.”
Austin played 27 times for Southampton last season, managing to score just three goals as he played a backup role to the starting XI.
His record in the Championship stands at 66 goals in 129 appearances, having led the line for the likes of QPR and Burnley.