Burnley are bracing themselves for a bid for player of the year Charlie Austin.
The 28-goal top-scorer is expected to attract significant interest this summer, and it is thought long-term suitors Aston Villa are preparing an offer to test the Clarets’ board’s resolve to hold onto the 23-year-old.
Villa have been admirers of the former Swindon Town striker for some time now, as has manager Paul Lambert, going back to his days at Norwich City, and they are believed to be ready to open the bidding at £4m.
Austin, who has a year remaining on his contract at Turf Moor, is also interesting Newcastle United, Sunderland, Celtic and newly-promoted Hull City.
Celtic were keen on landing Austin in January, had Gary Hooper left Scotland for Norwich, and boss Neil Lennon said last week: “What I’ve been after for a while is a physical centre-forward, someone to head the ball. But they’re a dying breed. “I like Charlie Austin at Burnley. Whether we can afford him or not is another matter.”
But Burnley are still to receive an official approach for Austin, signed by Eddie Howe for £1.2m in January 2010, and Sean Dyche said last week: “Someone will probably, not definitely, put in an offer and if that offer’s deemed appropriate at any given time the board will decide whether it’s appropriate or not (to sell).”