IN-DEMAND Charlie Austin admitted Burnley was his first choice after completing a seven-figure move to Turf Moor on Friday.
The 21-year-old striker agreed to become Eddie Howe’s first signing, with the Clarets beating off stiff competition from Blackpool, Ipswich and Southampton for his services.
Austin had talks with Ipswich on Thursday after new Tractor Boys boss Paul Jewell agreed a fee with Swindon, but the move fell down after failing to agree terms.
That allowed Burnley to step in, and, having matched the asking price – I understand the undisclosed fee to be £1.2m with adds-ons totalling another £300,000 – Austin jumped at the chance to move to Lancashire.
He will be in the squad to face Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium tomorrow night, and he can’t wait to pull on the Claret and Blue shirt.
He said: “Burnley was my first choice. I could have gone to Ipswich, but I wanted to come here – there’s a good manager, the club has great ambition, the Premier League is where they want to be, and I want to be a part of helping get there.
“I’m raring to go, and I’m just looking forward to making my debut, whether that’s at Doncaster or on Saturday.
“It’s good that there’s a game so soon, but whatever the gaffer’s plans are, I’ve just got to work hard. I’ve come here for a new challenge.
“The Championship is where I want to be at this stage of my career, and obviously I’m looking forward to making the step up.”
Austin has moved from non-league football with Poole Town – where he came to the attention of neighbours Bournemouth and then-boss Howe – to League 1, and now the Championship, and he hopes to complete the climb to the Premier League with the Clarets.
He said: “There were rumours that Blackpool had come in, but I never had any talks with them or anything, I just wanted to come here and play at Turf Moor for Burnley.
“The ambition of the club and the fans and everybody around the club is to get back to the Premier League, and who knows, in six months time or so we could be back there.”
Howe was eager to sign Austin while at Dean Court, but was unable to do so due to a transfer embargo.
However, he has finally got his man, having been backed by the Burnley board to make Austin the club’s ninth million-pound plus signing, after Ian Moore, Robbie Blake, Martin Paterson, Chris Eagles, Steven Fletcher, Andre Bikey, Danny Fox and Leon Cort.
Austin was keen to finally work with Howe: “Eddie took me to Bournemouth but couldn’t sign me due to the transfer embargo, and I ended up moving to Swindon.
“When he moved to Burnley, I was really looking forward to the challenge and wanted to come up here straight away, it was the one place I wanted to be.
“It’s unbelievable, everyone has been so nice, the set up and facilities are amazing, and the fans have been great with me so far.
“I hope to bring a bit of everything, I’ll work hard, but I know the main thing is to continue to score goals.”
Howe can now add Austin to a front-line that includes Martin Paterson, Steven Thompson, Jay Rodriguez and Chris Iwelumo – with young Wes Fletcher also an option – and he said: “We’ve got a lot of good forwards here at the football club, and that’s really pleasing for my point of view to have that at my disposal, really good competition for places as well.
“Hopefully the future looks bright.”
You never say never on deadline day, but Howe looked unlikely to add to his capture of Austin at the time of going to press: “It’s difficult. We’ll have to see who’s available.
“We are tentatively looking but there’s no mad rush.
“The lads have done really well in the three games so far, we’re not in any panic to add any more to the squad.”
And he is looking to build on the momentum of his first three games in charge at Doncaster, having presided over a draw and two wins: “The lads have done really well. We’re happy with the little run we’re on and we want to continue it.
“We’ve got a really tough game and the lads have got to try to recover again.
“There was a lot of effort in the Burton game and Doncaster haven’t played.
“We know it’s going to be difficult but we’d love to keep the momentum and keep the run going.”