Austin banned for two matches after abusive gesture

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The decision means Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl may be forced to select one of his less prolific strikers for the trip to the King Power

Southampton striker Charlie Austin has been suspended for two matches after admitting to making a crude gesture during the Premier League loss to Manchester City in December.

The 29-year-old was booed upon being withdrawn in the 68th minute at St Mary's and appeared to direct a two-fingered sign towards the travelling City supporters last month.

The Football Association charged Austin with making "an abusive and/or insulting" gesture and he will now miss Saturday's league trip to Leicester City.

He will also play no part in relegation-threatened Southampton's FA Cup third-round replay against Derby County on January 16.

This is not the first time Austin has found himself in disciplinary bother. In 2016 the striker received a three-game fan for violent conduct following a clash with Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.

He also was sent off as a QPR player during a 2-0 win against Burnley, a game in which Austin scored against his former side.

The forward’s absence leaves Ralph Hasenhuttl short on potent attacking options, with Manolo Gabbiadini on the cusp of completing a move to Serie A side Sampdoria.

He may, however, opt to select Shane Long, Danny Ings, Sam Gallagher or Michael Obafemi.

The latter made his Premier League debut last season against Tottenham and this campaign he has played five league games, scoring his first senior goal in the recent 3-1 win against Huddersfield.

As for Long, he has not netted once in 14 appearances, while Gallagher, has not played a single minute of Premier League football this season.

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The only Saints striker who has regularly found the back of the net this campaign is Ings, who has registered an impressive 8 in 16 since his loan move from Liverpool.

Even Austin has not been his usual prolific self and he has contributed just two league goals all season.

The 29-year-old joined Southampton from QPR in 2016 for a reported fee of £4m. Austin has also represented Burnley and Swindon Town.

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