Monday 19 August 2019

Villa step up hunt for £8m Austin to help relegation battle

Sam Wallace

Aston Villa want to sign Charlie Austin, the Queens Park Rangers striker, in January.

The Premier League's bottom club have watched Austin all season and are pushing ahead with plans to sign him now Remi Garde is in place as manager. The striker is in the last year of his contract and QPR rate him at £8 million.

There is a calculation for QPR to make as to whether Austin, 26, would be of more value in their push for promotion this season.

They are 13th in the Championship, eight points off the play-off places, and by January will be able to take a view on whether promotion is a realistic goal and, if not, whether they should cash in on their most valuable asset who will be out of contract in the summer.

Austin started the season strongly with eight goals in nine games, before a hamstring problem kept him out for most of last month. He has played three games this month without scoring. QPR have won one of their last six and sacked manager Chris Ramsey on Nov 4 after defeat by Derby County.

Austin turned down a move to Crystal Palace in August and said that he would see out the final year of his contract before deciding on his future.

Villa have the fewest goals in the Premier League this season, 10, along with Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion.

Elsewhere, Liverpool midfielder James Milner is confident Jurgen Klopp can improve his all-round game as he continues to implement his philosophy at Anfield.

The 29-year-old had started all of the manager's six opening games in the charge, wearing the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson, until a hamstring problem ruled him out of last Sunday's game against Crystal Palace.

Milner is optimistic on his chances of recovering in time to face Manchester City on Saturday and has explained why there is still plenty he can take from Klopp's methods.

"You can always learn whether you are 16 or 17, or whether you are 35 or 29," he said. "That's football and the manager will still be learning himself.

"Obviously he has come in with his new ideas, new training methods and things like that, so it's great for me as much as it is the younger guys. Hopefully I can help those younger guys, but I'm still learning myself. Changing managers is always different and I'm still learning the way he wants to play.

"I've been fortunate to work under some great managers and he is another one of the top managers in the game. I can learn as much as I can and hopefully put that back into my game, as a team member and as an individual and improve."

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