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Magpies eye QPR star Charlie Austin as summer striking recruit

Newcastle United (14/1 with Coral for a top 10 finish) are said to be assessing their striking options ahead of the summer, with QPR forward Charlie Austin expected to be a target.

The Hoops hitman has struck 17 times this term, his debut season in the top tier, and proven to be one of the west London club’s most valuable players.

While QPR would be loath to lose their most lethal asset, Chris Ramsey’s men may have no choice but to offload the attacker, should they fall through the Premier League trap door.

Having worked his way up from non-league football, potent predator Austin, who is expected to earn an England call-up if he continues his fine form, is unlikely to want to step back down to Championship level.

The Hungerford-born Hoops sharpshooter also has seven assists for the season, and has the potential to become a consistent Premier League goalscorer, an attribute Newcastle need, as doubts remain over Papiss Cisse’s long-term future.

Austin’s current contract expires in 2016 and the northeast outfit could certainly use a player of the 25-year-old’s ilk, having netted just 33 times in the league, which is only one more than bottom club Leicester City, and five less than QPR.

Tenerife-born attacker Ayoze Perez is one for the future, but has grabbed just five goals since his arrival, leaving room in the squad for a more reliable threat up front.

Austin’s exploits are also said to have attracted the attention of Southampton and Crystal Palace, but the Magpies could use financial muscle to edge ahead of their competitors.

Mike Ashley is believed to have earmarked £10m for Austin, and is also reported to have identified Burnley attacker Danny Ings as another option.

Alan Shearer and Andy Carroll are just two examples of English attackers to have excited and enthralled St James’ Park in the Premier League era, so Ashley could curry favour with fans by providing another homegrown hero.

Austin’s terrific timing and fantastic finishing will surely mean he moves on in summer to progress, with a mid-table team his most likely stop. The striker still has work to do before then though, as QPR (7/2 to stay up) continue to fight the drop.