BURNLEY are no closer to securing top scorer Charlie Austin on a longer term contract.
The Clarets have held preliminary talks about extending the striker’s current deal, which is due to expire in 2014.
The focus was on Austin during the January transfer window, with Celtic understood to have lined the 23-year-old up as a prime target in the event of losing Norwich City target Gary Hooper.
But Burnley held on to their marksman after the Hoops turned down up to FOUR bids from the Premier League side – the last of which was believed to be £5.5million – by last month’s deadline.
The Clarets were reassured that they would at least be able to see out the season with Austin in their armoury.
But, with Premier League clubs joining Celtic in continuing to monitor his progress in the Championship, the risk of losing their prized asset in the summer will intensify unless they are able to secure the former Swindon Town hotshot on a new deal.
The club has held discussions with the striker’s representative in recent weeks.
Talks are in their early stages, but with time on their side outside of the transfer window, manager Sean Dyche is refusing to get worked up about the situation.
“We’ll see what it is with Charlie, the main thing with Charlie is to keep him fit and scoring goals and enjoying his football,” said the Burnley boss.
“The board made it very clear how they felt about Charlie during the transfer window and that obviously transpired how we thought it would.”
After the transfer window closed at 11pm on January 31, Austin marked his return from a five-week injury lay-off the following Saturday at Peterborough, scoring in the first minute at London Road – taking his tally for the season to 24 in all competitions – only for Burnley to go on and draw the game 2-2.
He cut a frustrated figure in Saturday’s defeat at Bolton Wanderers, where the Clarets had taken a 1-0 lead.
Goalscoring opportunities were in short supply for Austin, but Dyche said: “I wouldn’t question the service because it’s very difficult to give service constantly to centre forwards every single week.
“That’s our intention of course, but we’ve done that generally well, so no that’s not a concern, it’s the details at the other end that let us down (on Saturday) – well, the first goal, and slightly last week (at Peterborough).
“We’ll affect that and then we move forward.”
Dyche is set to be without experienced defender Michael Duff, however, for at least the next two games.
The Northern Ireland international missed the derby at the Reebok as a result of a calf injury sustained the previous weekend at Posh.
Scan results have been encouraging, with no sign of major damage.
But Duff will miss the home double header with Huddersfield and Middlesbrough.
Saturday’s game against Huddersfield, however, will only go ahead if the Terriers lose their FA Cup replay at Leicester City tonight.
* The Clarets have named a strong side for a behind closed doors friendly against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium today.
Sam Vokes and Martin Paterson will lead the Burnley attack, while Brian Stock, Keith Treacy, Marvin Bartley and Dane Richards will feature in midfield.
Brian Jensen, Joseph Mills, Luke O’Neill, Kevin Long and Alex Coleman also start.
Clarets: Jensen, O’Neill, Mills, Long, Coleman, Stock, Bartley, Treacy, Richards, Paterson, Vokes. Subs: Williams, Gallagher, Evans, Howieson, Jackson, Conlan, Gilchrist, Mitchell.