Huddersfield Town prospect Josh Austerfield emerges to show his Football League pedigree with Harrogate Town

Perhaps the only silver lining to be found in Harrogate Town's current injury crisis is the opportunity it has afforded certain players to get minutes under their belts.

By Rhys Howell
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 9:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 9:52 am
Josh Austerfield in action for Harrogate Town during Easter Monday's 3-0 defeat at Northampton Town. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

With 10 members of his first team squad currently sidelined, Simon Weaver is down to the bare bones and was forced to recall powerhouse striker Aaron Martin from his loan at FC Halifax Town earlier this week.

As is also the case for veteran centre-half Leon Legge, who has slid down the pecking order in recent months, and back-up goalkeeper Joe Cracknell, an unexpected platform has materialised for the 30-year-old centre-forward to show his manager what he has to offer out on the pitch between now and the end of the season.

But perhaps the greatest beneficiary of injuries to Mark Oxley, Ryan Fallowfield, Lewis Page, Josh Falkingham, Will Smith, Calum Kavanagh, Alex Pattison, Lloyd Kerry, Brahima Diarra and Lewis Richards is on-loan Huddersfield Town youngster Josh Austerfield.

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Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.

Prior to his introduction as a half-time substitute for Pattison in Good Friday's 4-1 home defeat to Swindon, the 19-year-old midfielder hadn't played a single minute of football since making the briefest of cameos during the heartbreaking 4-3 loss at Exeter City on February 15.

But, he impressed boss Weaver with his second-half showing against the Robins and went on to back it up with an even more accomplished 90-minute performance as Town lost out 3-0 at Northampton on Easter Monday.

"I think Josh has had two outstanding games," Harrogate's manager reflected.

"He was absolutely brilliant on Monday. He was integral in terms of the game-plan, having to accept the ball when it was tight. I thought he was great.

"He did well with Thommo [George Thomson] in the middle of the park. If everybody had a little bit of Josh Austerfield's composure we probably score two or three.

"The thing with these young loan signings that we've had, it's can they bank the games and show people, us, Huddersfield, League One clubs possibly that they can play twice a week and handle the physical stresses on the body and show that they're not an academy player any more? He's shown that he can handle the intensity of Football League football."

Austerfield's Easter appearances were his sixth and seventh since he joined Town on loan from the Championship Terriers in early January.

The first came during an EFL Trophy win over Carlisle United, while the other six have all come in League Two. In total, he has started on three occasions but is set to add to that tally with three fixtures left to play this term.