Burnley bosses delight at Austin return

RETURN: Charlie Austin should be available for the visit to London Road
RETURN: Charlie Austin should be available for the visit to London Road
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CLARETS boss Sean Dyche was expecting to keep his first team squad together ahead of the close of the transfer window at 11 p.m. tonight.

While Dyche iss looking to get some of the younger professionals experience on loan - with Shay McCartan sealing a month-long switch to Hyde - he is hoping to hold onto the club’s prized asset Charlie Austin.

Austin, who is in contention to return to the squad on Saturday at Peterborough United after missing the last five games with a hamstring problem, has attracted speculation about his future all season after firing 23 goals in all competitions.

But at the time of going to press, Burnley were staying true to their long-held stance that they were not interested in cashing in on the 23-year-old.

Dyche said this morning: “A couple of the younger players might go out on loan - the likes of Tom Anderson, Stevie Hewitt and Shay McCartan - we need to get them out to get some experience in competitive football.

“But nothing is happening in terms of the first team. It’s early and you never quite know, but there’s been nothing building.

“We’ve had minimal contact, a couple of sounding out things, but nothing further.”

Asked whether he was surprised not to be tempted by an offer for Austin, he admitted: “I’m not really - as we’ve suggested over the last few weeks since the AGM, when the chairmen made a statement of intent, he’s not for sale.

“People back off then, if it’s not going to happen.

“We’ve been quite open and forthright in our views, between the board and myself.

“There has been no actual contact over Charlie, the club have made it clear they don’t want or need to sell unless it is a fee that you simply cannot refuse.

“Why would we sell? We’re on the cusp of things, a couple of referees’ decisions away from doing even better.”

I understand Chris McCann and Martin Paterson - both out of contract in the summer - both attracted interest from Championship rivals Wolves, although that was as far as it had gone at the time of going to press.

And both could yet sign new deals with the club, before being able to leave on free transfers at the end of the season.

And Dyche feels the imminent return of Austin will be a better boost than bringing in a fresh face: “The transfer window is big news, it’s big for clubs making signings and spending lots of money, but the reality is, in a week’s time the loan window opens, and we’re constantly looking at that.

“With Charlie fit again after being out for four weeks, he’ll bring a freshness, and we’ve added Dane Richards.

“The group have raised the bar though, they’ve set the standard, so let’s go stronger, keep going, keep trying to add the inches, that 1% in the details and see where it can take us, alongside monitoring the market.”

Along with Austin, Michael Duff is close to a return after two games out with a hamstring injury, but Ben Mee has had a setback with his knee problem: “Ben is a bit further behind the curve now, he’s still getting through the injury and had a minor upset with it.

“Charlie has had a good week’s training so far so he should be available, and Duffo has had a good week as well.

“If he comes through today (Thursday), he should be okay - certainly Charlie is in contention though.

“Kevin Long wobbled his ankle on Tuesday, but we’re hoping it’s just minor.”

Dyche will also have Dean Marney available, after his three-match ban for his sending off against Birmingham on Saturday was overturned.

But while Dyche was pleased to have the red card rescinded, the fact the Clarets went on to play the last half hour of the game with 10 men, going on to lose in injury time, rankles.

He feels the Premier League could help improve referees’ performances by pledging financial support to help officials go full time: “We’re obviously happy the decision was overturned, but I’m not happy in the general scheme of things - we’ve had six game-changing decisions go against us in 16 games, which is far too many.

“Imagine the difference those lost points could have made to us.

“It’s massive in terms of the season - clubs like us are fighting to have the right to challenge to be in the Premier League and a pot of £80m of whatever it is now.

“All the referees work hard for a living then come and referee our games, without much in the way of backing and support.

“If the Premier League devoted 0.25% of its budget towards refereeing in the Football League, it could only help improve things.

“We’re fighting to be in their competition, playing for the Premier League pot, and it would be a miniscule gesture.”

Burnley go to London Road on Saturday - a ground where they have only won once in their history, albeit only nine visits.

Their last success there came in 1995, and despite the Posh languishing at the bottom of the table, they are capable of an upset, as their wins at leaders Cardiff and Wolves suggest.

Dyche looked ahead to the game: “Peterborough are very unpredictable, they seem to lose and draw a few then win a couple - they might have only won once in eight now, but they won four out of five before that.

“They have good players, and like most Championship sides, on their day they can be a force, so we have to be on our game, there’ll be no going there and walking away with the points.

“Just because they’re bottom of the league, we won’t be taking them lightly.”

Peterborough were expected to lose key man George Boyd ahead of the deadline today, and Dyche added: “Boyd has been a big player for them for a number of seasons, but, if that deal is completed, you can’t underestimate the power of someone coming in and taking his place, wanting to do well.”

• Football transfer news and gossip as it happens in the build up to deadline day on January 31st

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