Aston Villa linked with Austin swoop

Charlie AustinAston Villa are reportedly in pole position to sign Burnley striker Charlie Austin in the summer, according to the Express and Star.

Villa boss Paul Lambert is keen to bolster his attacking options with doubts hanging over the futures of strikers Christian Benteke and Darren Bent.

Benteke hit 23 goals in all competitions last season and has attracted the interest of a number of top European clubs, with the player himself admitting earlier this month that he may have to move for the sake of his career.

Bent, in contrast, made just eight league starts last campaign, scoring three goals, and is keen to move in order to secure regular first-team football.

Newly promoted Crystal Palace, West Ham and Fulham have been linked with the 29-year-old, with Lambert set to use any funds received on a move for Austin.

The 23-year-old has scored 45 goals in just 90 matches for Burnley since joining from Swindon in 2011.

The Clarets are reluctant to let the forward leave the club, but he is set to move into the final year of his contract, meaning he could leave for free next year.

In order to avoid that scenario it is believed the Championship outfit would be willing to accept a fee in the region of £4.5million for the frontman.

Villa may face competition for Austin’s signature from the likes of Hull, Celtic, Newcastle and Sunderland, who have all been linked with the player in the past.

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