Cobblers caretaker boss Austin backing striker van Veen
Caretaker boss Dean Austin has defended striker Kevin van Veen's performances, and revealed the former Scunthorpe United man has been playing through the pain barrier for the Cobblers.
A substantial sum was paid out for the Dutchman in the January transfer window, and it was hoped the 26-year-old would provide the firepower in attack that would propel Town to Sky Bet League One safety.
But it hasn’t quite worked out like that.
Van Veen suffered a knee injury on his full debut for the club, the 3-1 win at AFC Wimbledon on February 10, and has yet to find the target in five starts and three substitute appearances in the claret and white.
That has led to criticism from some quarters for the Eindhoven-born player, with questions arising about his commitment and work-rate, but on the eve of Saturday’s crucial clash at rock-bottom Bury, Austin jumped to the player’s defence.
The caretaker boss insists van Veen is giving his all, says he has been hampered by his troublesome knee injury, and believes the player can still provide the moments of magic that could yet see the Cobblers save themselves from the drop.
Asked about the player’s struggle for form, Austin said: “I think the injury has affected him, and I can tell you now that up until the Peterborough game he still had the injury, but was playing on with it.
“People can criticise him and say ‘he’s not doing this’, ‘he’s not doing that’, well actually the guy has been putting his body on the line because he had quite a nasty knee injury.
“One day he turned up and came in to me, and he said ‘have you got me down on the numbers for training today?’.
“I said no, but he said ‘I can’t sit in that room any more, I am coming out to work and train because it is doing my head in’.
“So fair play to Kevin, he wants to try and do something about the situation we are in.”
Van Veen is set to lead the line at Gigg Lane on Saturday, despite the fact he and strike partner Chris Long have yet to really hit it off as a pairing, but Austin believes the Dutchman is capable of changing a game in a flash.
“You’ll have a situation where Kevin might not be in the game for 20 minutes, but I guarantee you that if he gets an opportunity it will be in the back of the net,” said the Town caretaker boss. “That is his quality.”