AUSTIN SET POWER-ED AND FOR THE FI­NAL PUSH

Simp­son backs £4m Char­lie to fire R’s to Wem­b­ley glory

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Jack Skelton

CHAR­LIE AUSTIN’S £4m price tag could prove to be the bar­gain of the sea­son if QPR fin­ish the job against Derby on Satur­day – and Danny Simp­son hailed the striker af­ter his dou­ble downed Wi­gan.

Rangers will play for a re­turn to the Pre­mier League – and a po­ten­tial £120mil­lion bounty that comes with top-flight foot­ball – when they clash against the Rams in the play-off fi­nal this weekend.

And it’s all thanks to nerve­less Austin, a for­mer brick­layer, who bagged a penalty 17 min­utes from time be­fore lay­ing the foun­da­tions for a Wem­b­ley show­down with a typ­i­cal poacher’s goal in ex­tra time which sealed a 2-1 ag­gre­gate win.

“Char­lie must have had some nerves be­fore he took it but we knew he would put it away be­cause he has been top class for us all sea­son,” said Simp­son.

“Then for the win­ner he came out of nowhere to score, I didn’t think any­thing was on. It was a great flick from Bobby Zamora and Char­lie’s so sharp he knew to get into the box and poke it in.

“He’s scored goals all sea­son and been a bril­liant sign­ing for us and well worth the in­vest­ment the gaffer made.

“We’ll be go­ing to Wem­b­ley full of con­fi­dence af­ter these two games, es­pe­cially be­cause this was the tougher of the two semi-fi­nals.

“I be­lieve we do de­serve to be Pre­mier League as we’ve got the right back­ing, man­ager and play­ers. There are loads of Pre­mier League ap­pear­ances be­tween

this squad. Some people have been writ­ing us off re­cently but we showed how much we want to be in the Pre­mier League.

“Hope­fully we’ll win that game and then ev­ery­one can have a wellde­served break. Then it’ll be up to the own­ers and the man­ager to re­cruit and make our team even bet­ter for next sea­son.”

De­spite start­ing his ca­reer at Manch­ester United, and more re­cently ply­ing his trade with New­cas­tle, Simp­son has never played at Wem­b­ley.

But Rangers’ squad of high-pro­file stars – which in­cludes the likes of FA Cup win­ner Niko Kran­j­car – have been busy of­fer­ing the 27-year-old words of ad­vice.

“Derby are a tough team but I think our ex­pe­ri­ence could help,” added Simp­son. “We have play­ers who are able to give those who haven’t played at Wem­b­ley ad­vice.

“I’m one who hasn’t played there be­fore so I can’t wait. We have strong lead­ers and that’s a pos­i­tive thing for this team.

“If we con­tinue our ex­cel­lent prepa­ra­tion for the semi-fi­nals, I’m sure we will be more than ready for the fi­nal.”

Tipped as pre-sea­son cer­tain­ties for pro­mo­tion, big-spend­ing Rangers have flat­tered to de­ceive at times this term and stum­bled into the play-offs on the back of just three wins in eight games.

They over­came an almighty scare in the sec­ond leg at Lof­tus Road on Mon­day night af­ter James Perch had given Wi­gan a ninth-minute lead.

But with the likes of for­mer Manch­ester City stal­warts Richard Dunne and Ne­dum On­uoha by his side in de­fence, Simp­son is sure the R’s have what it takes to re­turn to the Pre­mier League at the first time of ask­ing.

“To win af­ter com­ing from be­hind proves the spirit we have here and shows the ad­van­tage of hav­ing the sec­ond leg at home,” he con­tin­ued.

“The fans were bril­liant, even when we were 1-0 down they made so much noise.We still be­lieved we could turn it around and if any­thing got a lit­tle bit stronger.

“I want to give credit to all the play­ers, staff and fans in­volved.

“There were a few nervy mo­ments near the end but we were con­fi­dent of hold­ing on, as we’ve done it for most of the sea­son. We’ve won a lot of games 1-0 where in the last ten min­utes teams have been throw­ing ev­ery­thing at us.

“It’s eas­ier when you have (Richard) Dunne and Ne­dum (On­uoha) at cen­tre back win­ning ev­ery­thing – they were rocks.

“Ev­ery­one was just throw­ing them­selves in, slid­ing for ev­ery ball be­cause we’re des­per­ate for pro­mo­tion.

“Wi­gan ran out of ideas be­cause we were so on top of them our fans were right be­hind us and I know they will be the same at Wem­b­ley.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BIG-TIME CHAR­LIE: Austin cel­e­brates his equaliser with Danny Simp­son. In­serts, top, Austin mobbed by fans af­ter scor­ing the ex­tra­time win­ner, be­low

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