EVERYONE was astounded when, on the eve of the season, Charlie Austin was sold to QPR to balance Burnley’s books.

He was tipped for a return to Turf Moor if QPR hadn’t clinched promotion to the Premier League. Now they have, that won’t happen – even if there was a chance it was on the cards in the first place.

But I can see why the rumours were circulated.

It’s hard to see Sam Vokes making an appearance until Christmastime, such was the severity of his knee injury, so a move for Austin would seem a good one to address the need for a big fella up front to work with Danny Ings and to provide competition for Ashley Barnes.

Nicklas Bendtner is another candidate who has been mentioned following his release from Arsenal, although he has also been mentioned in connection with Hull and is said to be keeping his options open.

He hasn’t really done much for the Gunners, but if there was a chance Sean Dyche could get him then I think he could transform him into a force to be reckoned with, just like he turned Danny Ings and Sam Vokes into one of the most feared strike partnerships.

An old saying from my day is that you don’t become a bad player overnight and I feel that’s the case with Bendtner. It just needs to be coaxed out of him.

That’s a strength of the Burnley manager’s – his man-management.

It’s second to none and because of that he has generated a very happy squad and, in turn, success for the Clarets.

Although wages alone would put Bendtner out of reach, we are in a very healthy position financially and should have no problems in signing more realistic targets to bolster our squad for the task of competing in the Premier League for the coming season.

The manager has said he wants to keep Chris Baird and that would be a good signing – a Northern Ireland international with plenty of experience at the top level.

He is a versatile player too and would slot back in immediately with the rest of the squad after making an impact on his short-term deal.

I know the former Fulham defender lives and is settled in the south, but I went down south during my career and when I got the chance to return to the north of England I jumped at it, because Lancastrians are good people and always make you feel welcome.

They’ve always been nice to this Irishman anyway.

* I know none of us can wait for Premier League football to return to Turf Moor, but there is one person who is especially excited to see Burnley back in the top flight and that is Jay Rodriguez.

It’s incredible that he and Sam Vokes suffered the same injury just a couple of weeks apart. I really feel for them both because they were at the top of their game.

But hopefully they will be playing in the same game next season. I know how hard Jay is working to get back to where he was.

Southampton have even installed the gym equipment he needs at his home to help with his rehab and prevent muscle wastage.