Boss expects Austin offers

Fife gaffer Gary Naysmith. Pic by Alan Murray
Fife gaffer Gary Naysmith. Pic by Alan Murray

Gary Naysmith has always been honest enough to concede that Nathan Austin is destined for bigger things than East Fife FC.

That’s no slight on the Fifers, it’s the simple truth.

Since the turn of the calendar year, Austin has transformed himself from a squad player at Bayview into one of the hottest properties in the Scottish game.

The 21-year-old has scouts travelling from across the country to watch him, and would have impressed any in the stands on Saturday with a sublime hat-trick against Stirling Albion.

It probably added an extra couple of grand on top of a price tag a few clubs are expected to battle it out over.

His current boss knows the value of his prized possession, and admits it may be sooner rather than later that the striker bids farewell to Bayview.

“He got another three goals but could easily have had more,” said Naysmith.

“He’s a good player and when he has his wee dips people forget he’s only 21 and was playing amateur football two years ago.

“I could be wrong but I think his stats are 27 or 28 goals in his last 42 or 43 games.

“That’s incredible.

“The chairman may not thank me for saying this but I firmly believe someone will come in for him in the January window.

“How do you replace him?

“Tell me one striker in the league that plays that lone striker as well as ‘Fash’ plays it.

“I don’t think there’s one.

“That’s where we are at East Fife, taking young players in who have been released by clubs, progressing them and trying to get some money for them.

“We won’t under-sell him.

“If someone comes in they’ll have to pay a decent rate for a League Two player.”

Austin’s hat-trick helped East Fife regain some of the form that has been missing in recent months.

In truth, despite Stirling’s own current run of good form, the Fifers were more than worth the win.

Some may look upon it as a coupon buster, but Naysmith said the victory was no surprise to he and his side.

He added: “I thought we thoroughly deserved it.

“We played really well apart from a 15 minute spell at the start of the second half.

“Results don’t lie, Stirling Albion had been one of the form teams in the league and we were one of those out of form, although performances hadn’t been too bad.

“I don’t think anybody outwith our changing room would have expected us to win the game.

“But we were quite confident and that’s no disrespect to Stirling.

“We’ve played them four times now and we’ve been the better team in three and a half of those games but we haven’t had the results.

“We got a wee bit of luck and obviously Nathan Austin has his three goals and could of had more.”

The gaffer reserved special praise for his side for keeping themselves ticking over across the festive period.

In particular he hailed the showings of Pat Slattery and Ross Brown.

“Pat and Ross may not catch the eye but I know what they give to the team,” Naysmith said.

“They do a lot of the donkey work and just bring an energy to the team and are two of the fittest players at the club.

“I’ve given the players praise because it’s been difficult for us.”