Can Burnley and QPR keep Danny Ings and Charlie Austin?
Turf Moor has been something of a hotbed for up-and-coming British forward talent over the last five years; starting with Steven Fletcher, then Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin and now Danny Ings.
It’s those latter two, with Austin at QPR, which are attracting some unwanted attention from the respective perspectives of Hoops boss Harry Redknapp and Clarets coach Sean Dyche.
Coral make Burnley odds-on joint-favourites for relegation at 4/9, and QPR 15/8 chances to lose Premier League status again. If those prices are to drift, and survival prospects improve, then these two teams must keep hold of their prized assets.
England Under-21 international Ings has been linked with switches to top four hopefuls Spurs (7/1) and Southampton (9/2), where one-time Turf Moor teammate Rodriguez is readying to make his return from a lengthy lay-off in the New Year.
Dyche insists his top scorer is going nowhere, though. Of Ings, he said: “The chairmen have come out and said he’s going nowhere and I’m happy with that as a manager. We have open dialogue with him and his agent.
“The club have made it quite clear how much they value the players we’ve got and we’re in a good position cash-wise, because we haven’t spent a lot of money. If anything, we’re thinking about adding to the squad.”
Ings is out of contract this coming summer, though, and Burnley are running a real risk of losing him for nothing. Because his deal runs out then, the player could reach an agreement to join another club in July this winter.
That ‘not for sale’ mantra Dyche demonstrates is echoed by Redknapp in regard to Austin. “If we sold Charlie Austin we might as well go home,” said the QPR manager.
“We need Charlie to keep doing what he’s doing and he can’t afford to take his foot off the gas. His target would be around 20 goals now.”
Ambitious stuff from Redknapp, as that individual milestone presently matches the total number of Hoops strikes in the Premier League at Christmas. Austin is directly responsible for 11 (a worryingly high rate of 55 per cent) of those 20 top-flight goals.
While the burden is largely on one man at Loftus Road, at least Dyche knows it’s an ensemble Clarets cast of Ings, George Boyd and Ashley Barnes that account for nine of their dozen Premier League efforts.
Both Austin and Ings, who is also linked to 6/5 top half finish chances Newcastle United, have enjoyed meteoric rises from non-league and lower tiers of English football respectively.
Whether their rags to riches stories result in international recognition remain to be seen, but Ings and Austin’s England chances will only be enhanced by making moves to more stable Premier League teams and replicating their fine form.
Goals in the second half of the season from both will obviously be central to survival bids. Burnley are 13/8 to stay up, while QPR are odds-on to avoid the drop at 4/11.