Charlie Austin has told talkSPORT that he laughed in Lucas Digne’s face after the Everton full-back miscontrolled the ball during Queens Park Rangers’ Carabao Cup win on Tuesday.
The QPR star explained that the brutal interaction came after he and Digne enjoyed some light-hearted ribbing during the game. Rafa Benitez’s side ultimately lost on penalties after a 2-2 draw in regular time.
Austin scored each of the host’s strikes to twice take the lead, before Digne and Andros Townsend pulled Everton level. He then converted QPR’s first penalty of the shoot-out, while a calf injury had forced Digne off. Although Benitez doubts the issue is serious.
Digne and Austin had frequently exchanged words before the Everton ace exited the action after 80-minutes. Some of the tackles the QPR star made during the first-half irritated the 42-cap France international. Who responded by poking fun at Austin’s international record.
“It was just a bit of fun, he gave me a little bit,” Austin explained. “In the first-half, he was on about me fouling him and he just turned around and said: ‘How many caps you got?’
“I had a little giggle to myself, and I didn’t mind it. Then in the second-half, the ball came over the top and took about six or seven seconds to come down, he went to control it and shinned it out of play. I just laughed in his face.”
Austin, who has never played for England, added: “[I sledge defenders] all the time. Just talking rubbish. I just find out what they’re up to tonight, then try and nip in front of them. Then I’ll say: ‘How are you playing mate, you having one?’ Then they say: ‘So are you!’.”
Can Everton cope without Digne if injury proves worse than Benitez suspects?
Austin ultimately had the last laugh on Tuesday as Championship side QPR dumped Digne’s Everton out of the Carabao Cup. Benitez’s attention will now turn back to the league, and will hope Digne is available to face Norwich on Saturday.
The Spaniard does not have a recognised replacement for Digne in his squad at Goodison Park. The Toffees allowed Niels Nkounkou to join Standard Liege on loan this summer, while youth prospect Thierry Small joined Southampton.
Former manager Carlo Ancelotti often utilised Ben Godfrey as a left-back when without Digne last season. Benitez could follow, but had to use the 23-year-old at right-back against Aston Villa last weekend with Seamus Coleman unavailable.
Mason Holgate could step up, while Jonjoe Kenny came in at full-back to face QPR. Yet the Blues product struggled at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, with Austin’s side enjoying a lot of success on their left-flank with Kenny’s efforts to prevent their attacks tepid at best.