LONDON (REUTERS) - Charlie Austin of Queens Park Rangers has responded to what he called an "outrageous slur" on his professionalism by West Ham United owner David Sullivan who said signing the striker would be a big risk for his club.
Austin, included in England's squad for the final two internationals of the 2014-15 season, scored 18 goals last term but that was not enough to stop QPR being relegated from the Premier League.
Rangers have put a 15 million pounds (S$33 million) price tag on his head and several top clubs have shown an interest in buying him.
Asked on a West Ham fan's podcast if the 26-year-old former Swindon Town and Burnley forward was a transfer target, Sullivan said: "They say he has no ligaments in his knee, who knows?
"To sign a 15 million pounds player is a big risk. He could go on for years but knowing our luck his knee will go in his first game and that's the end of it."
Austin replied by putting a statement on his Twitter account defending his fitness. He said: "For a senior figure at a Premier League club to insinuate that I could break down at any moment is an outrageous slur on my professionalism and the work that has gone into making me the footballer than I am today.
"I feel I have no option but to address the inaccurate, misleading and uninformed innuendo about my physical condition that has been raised today by an individual who is not privy to my personal health history."
He added: "For the record there is nothing wrong with my 'ligaments', as has been suggested. My strength and performance in pre-season has been excellent and with two goals in my last two games I don't think there is any doubt that my match sharpness is as good as ever.
"I scored 18 goals in the Premier League last season which would not be possible were I feeling discomfort or pain.
"Like many professional footballers I have the legacy of injuries picked up over my career but the effect on my day-to-day training and on matchday is non-existent."