​Southampton striker Charlie Austin has been told by manager Ralph Hasenhüttl that he is free to leave the club in the summer.


Austin has only played 246 minutes of Premier League football since the turn of the year and turned down a move to the Championship in the January transfer window.

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​Austin has found opportunities hard to come by this season, starting just eleven ​Premier League games. Since Hasenhüttl replaced Mark Hughes as manager in December, the 29-year-old's involvement has been reduced even further. 


He has been on the bench for Southampton's last three games and did not get any minutes at all in their two last fixtures.


Hasenhüttl says that he does not want Austin to be sitting on the bench and potentially waste part of his career, encouraging him to find a new club in the summer where he will play.


"Charlie is very clear on the situation that in the summer he must find another option where he plays more often," he said in his press conference (​as reported by The Mirror).


"It depends on how much he wants to play."

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"That's a situation you can handle for a few months or even a year but not for five years because you are not born as a footballer to sit on the bench and not play.


"If he comes to me and says 'Manager it was very nice to help you, it was very nice to be successful with your team, but I want to play more minutes and that's why I want to leave,' I'm the last guy who says you cannot," he added.


Austin joined the Saints from ​QPR in January 2016 and has made 79 appearances for the club, scoring 29 goals. He has scored three times this season, his most recent start was in Southampton's 2-1 victory over ​Tottenham Hotspur in March.

Southampton play FA Cup finalists ​Watford at Vicarage Road on Tuesday evening.