Southampton could beat Newcastle to signing of strike ace

Southampton have emerged as major rivals to Newcastle in the pursuit of QPR striker Charlie Austin.

The former Burnley, Swindon and Poole Town ace has impressed in his debut season in the top flight, scoring 17 goals in a vain attempt to keep the R’s in the Premier League.

Loftus Road chiefs insist the striker will not be sold on the cheap and Ronald Koeman is expected to test the waters with a £10m bid in the coming days.

Newcastle are also keen on the 25-year-old but the St James’ Park outfit will need to be sure of their own survival before launching any attempt to lure Austin to the north-east, potentially leaving the door open for Koeman to strike the first blow.

The Saints boss recently tied long-term injury absentee Jay Rodriguez to a new contract at St Mary’s but after a prolonged absence from first team activities Koeman is reportedly keen to bring in competition and cover in the shape of Austin.

Rangers have offered Austin an extended deal that would see his wages rise from £28,000 to £60,000 per week but after falling back down to the Championship the club are now resigned to losing their man.

Newcastle are joined by West Brom on the list of admirers but it is thought that Austin’s desire to remain close to his family home of Bournemouth has put Saints in the driving seat.

Austin will face Newcastle this weekend and the betting suggests the Hoops striker will show the Magpies his class with a price of 9/2 suggesting he’ll net first and odds of just 7/4 about him scoring at any time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.