Dean Austin has talked up the commitment and quality of Kevin van Veen and believes the striker is capable of scoring 25 goals ‘if he’s anywhere near his level’ this season.
The 27-year-old has wiped the slate clean for the new campaign after enduring a nightmare start to his Northampton career when, signed from Scunthorpe United in January, he was hampered by injury and poor form.
Van Veen failed to score in any of his 10 appearances last term but it took him just one game to get off the mark this season, heading home Town’s first goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Carlisle United.
That visibly lifted his confidence and he proceeded to enjoy an excellent game, central to many of Cobblers’ best moments in the contest, much to his manager’s delight.
“Kevin is a top quality player and if you get him chances he’ll score goals,” said Austin. “He knows what I expect and what the prerequisites are for pulling on a Northampton Town shirt.
“I’m pleased for him because he’s taken his opportunity and scored. It’s not a monkey off his back but he’s got his goal now and, this boy, if he’s anywhere near his level he’ll score 25 goals this season, he’s that good.
Kevin is a top quality player and if you get him chances he’ll score goals. He knows what I expect and what the prerequisites are for pulling on a Northampton Town shirt.
“But you’ve got to do the other side of the game. He needs help from his team-mates and to be prepared to put a shift in for the team and he did that on Saturday and got his reward for it.
“He should be able to grow from the goal and it should give him the confidence to be able to kick-on now.”
Van Veen’s troubles at Northampton have been well-documented but, despite dividing fans, Austin only had positive things to say about the Dutchman’s attitude and commitment since his arrival at the club.
“I think people didn’t realise that he got quite a nasty knee injury last season,” he explained. “He got fed up of being in the treatment and in the end he just wanted to get back out on the field but he wasn’t right and played when injured.
“I don’t think people understand how much he really wanted to help us in our plight. He didn’t play as well as he would have liked but he probably didn’t have the physical capability to play the way he wanted to and we needed him to at that time.
“Everyone has spells like that but at the end of the day he has the quality to score many, many goals for us in this division.”