The future of Charlie Austin is surely at long last coming to a head.

Newcastle, Southampton and Crystal Palace are the three clubs who appear to be most interested, if you believe the media at all…

After Newcastle failed to score for the third match in a row and registered a third defeat in three games, Steve McClaren was asked about interest in Charlie Austin.

In reply McClaren stuck to the party line…

“I can’t mention names. We are talking very privately and we’re not discussing anything about January – any targets

“We know what we need and we know what we’re doing behind the scenes. I just say that we will keep that private until such time that something happens.

“Believe you me, we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to correct things, to move on and get results.”

However, the United boss has already in the last few days confirmed that he would like another striker and the time for dispensing on gambling on ‘ones for the future’, who will hopefully increase in value, must surely now be put to one side.

The local media in West London are still reporting claims by QPR that they are happy to keep Charlie Austin until the end of the season and lose him for nothing…but at the same time saying that Les Ferdinand has also allegedly let it be known that he won’t let Austin go for anything less than £12.5m.

Rangers are marooned in 16th place in the table, a massive 18 points off automatic promotion and 11 points and 10 other clubs between them and a place even in the play-offs.

Charlie Austin’s last contribution was scoring twice on 15 December against Brighton to grab a point, the striker playing the full game and only then being ruled out with a ‘hamstring’ injury for the following match.

If you were cynical you could certainly look at what is reported to be a minor hamstring injury being very timely in terms of getting him to the transfer window, in decent enough shape in order to be sold.

With 10 goals in 12 starts (plus four as a sub) this season, Charlie Austin has rubber stamped his desire to score goals that had previously been shown with 77 goals in 133 starts (plus 14 as sub) over four seasons, including 18 Premier League goals last season for the worst team in the division.

With Newcastle and every other club looking at approximately another £50m per year from next season, if they are still in the Premier League, then it looks guaranteed that £12.5m or so will look a small price to pay for Charlie Austin, if his ‘hamstring injury’ proves to be of no ongoing concern.