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Clinical Charlie Austin key to QPR’s Premier League survival

QPR, odds-on 8/11 with Coral to stay up, have reportedly been left stunned after star striker Charlie Austin indicated he will be delaying the signing of a new £60k-a-week contract until the summer.

The clinical centre-forward has been in fantastic form this season for Redknapp’s Rangers, netting 13 Premier League goals so far, becoming the highest scoring Englishman in the top-flight.

Relegation-threatened QPR have been heavily reliant on Austin, who is behind only Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero in the Premier League scoring charts, with the Hungerford-born forward keeping his side within a point of safety.

Despite a contract stand-off, Redknapp’s rampant poacher remains committed to keeping the Hoops in the top division, but with only 18 months remaining on his current deal, Austin’s attacking credentials could tempt top teams into a move for his services.

The striker is prepared to wait until the end of the current season before deciding on his future, with the delayed deal inevitably set to alert other Premier League clubs.

Interestingly, Austin is way behind some of the club’s highest earners at Loftus Road, with midfielders Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar officially being paid £90k and £60k a week respectively. Austin signed a three-year deal worth a reported £28k-a-week when joining from Burnley for £4m in 2013.

QPR will be desperate to tie down their 25-year-old striker, with Redknapp’s men currently in the bottom three and facing a huge struggle to avoid the drop, having set a new league record for losing all of their games on the road this term.

Their 2-1 loss to Austin’s former employers Burnley saw the hapless Hoops become the first ever team since Sunderland in 1965 to lose their first 10 away clashes in the top-flight.

Redknapp’s revered attacker will be hoping to add to his impressive season tally and help his side clinch some vital points when they host Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United this week.

Austin began his career in non-league football with Hungerford Town and Poole Town but, after his dominant displays this season, has recently been tipped for a place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for their next Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Lithuania in March.

England’s regular attacking force has been hampered by injury and poor form this term, with United’s Wayne Rooney the only first-team striker presently performing potently.

Daniel Sturridge has missed a huge portion of the campaign through injury, having not played for Liverpool since August, while Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert continue to struggle in front of goal.

Austin’s emergence as a proven goalscorer could not have come at a better time, as Hodgson prepares for stern qualifying tests against Lithuania and Slovenia, as well as international friendlies with Italy and Republic of Ireland this year.

The Hoops hitman has struck the same number of league goals as England’s Rooney, Lambert, Sturridge and Welbeck have combined this term, and Hogdson will undoubtedly have a close eye on the prolific Premier League poacher as crucial clashes draw near.

QPR currently sit in 19th spot in the domestic table and are one point adrift of safety but, with Austin among their ranks, Redknapp holds an ace-in-the-pack in the fight for Premier League survival. Rangers are odds-on 5/6 to be relegated this season.