CHARLIE Austin reckons odds on his first goal in the Championship have shortened since Niko Kranjcar joined QPR.
Chances are the £4million striker and the Croatian plucked from Dynamo Kiev before the transfer window closed, will link up for the first time when Hoops are at home to Birmingham on Saturday.
Austin has scored in the Capital Cup against Exeter, but agreed a weight will be lifted when the prolific marksman finally hits the back of the net in the league.
He said: “I watched Niko in the past and he’s a real exciting player. To learn from him and knowing he’ll be supplying balls can only make me a better player.
“The goals will come, although I don’t how. I’ve hit the crossbar a couple of times and maybe I’ll shin one in to get off the mark.”
No sooner had Austin stepped through the QPR door, boss Harry Redknapp reckoned he would be the next Rickie Lambert that rose from obscurity to play for England one day.
But the player who left school at 15 to carry a hod on a building site insists his feet are firmly on the floor.
“To tell the truth, I take that sort of comment with a pinch of salt, and it’s encouraging but I’m not looking that far forward. I’m not that naïve – I’ve got to score in the Championship first,” added Austin.
The former Burnley star is hoping for better luck when he faces the Blues for only the second time.
Back in December, the game at St Andrews ended 2-2 with Birmingham scoring a late equaliser to deny the Clarets.
“They’ve just signed my friend Paul Caddis from Swindon, and they’re a decent outfit – but the squad we’ve now got in we should be a force in the Championship,” said Austin.