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Suzanne Geldard column: Hotshot Austin is on fire for Clarets
A MODERN day attacking ‘Marvel’, Charlie Austin is in the form of his life.
Blazing a trail so hot he could give the Human Torch a run for his money you could say he’s in Fantastic Four-m, in fact.
The fearless forward is breaking Burnley records with almost every game he plays at the moment.
A late winning header against Leeds means he is now the quickest Claret to hit 20 goals in a season, after just 17 games.
He missed out, of course, on the chance to surpass Ray Pointer’s eight-game scoring streak in a 4-0 defeat at Cardiff City.
But it is testament to Austin’s characteristics as a person and a team-mate that he would have given anything for anyone else to score that day, just as long as it didn’t end in defeat – especially given the manner of it.
“I did want to break the record but it was a disappointing result,” he said.
“That day it didn't matter who got the goal – if we'd have got a 1-0 there or anything it would have been great for us.”
Similarly, it would be a result for Burnley if they could keep hold of the now much sought-after striker in January.
For while Austin’s goal rush is great for the Clarets just now, it serves to sharpen a double-edged sword.
With the goals come points, but also attention – great if the Clarets are looking to cash in; not so great if they have got designs on winning promotion, especially after losing last season’s top scorer, Jay Rodriguez, in the summer.
There has not yet been talk of a new contract for Austin at Turf Moor. Perhaps it would be a fruitless task because if Arsenal, or any team of that ilk, does come knocking then no amount of paperwork or contract longevity is likely to keep the 23-year-old from their clutches.
But January is full of jeopardy, for both clubs and players.
What could seem like a good move at the time could end up backfiring and the player getting lost on the periphery of the squad.
Alternatively, he could become a focal point of a new club, but face a relegation battle and end up back where he came from.
There are multiple risks, including his pricetag potentially being reduced the shorter his contract gets.
But by completing a first full and hopefully injury-free season with the Clarets Austin could make an even bigger name for himself, become a more rounded footballer and better prepared for the next step.
If he could break even more club records and keep mixing it with Messi at the top of the European scoring pack, then he could have the world at his feet.
In the process, Burnley could benefit with another push for the Premier League. Based on their current form, it’s certainly possible.
And that really would be priceless.