London - QPR's Charlie Austin has launched a scathing attack on West Ham co-owner David Sullivan after he said signing the striker would be a big risk.
Despite QPR's relegation from the Premier League last season, Austin scored 18 goals in his first year in the top-flight and earned a call-up from England manager Roy Hodgson at the end of the campaign.
The 26-year-old has been linked with several Premier League clubs, including West Ham, over the last three months.
But QPR are reportedly unwilling to drop their £15 million valuation and, asked about Austin on the Knees Up Mother Brown podcast, Sullivan suggested that price might be too high given talk that the player has knee injury issues.
"They say he has no ligaments in his knee, who knows?," Sullivan said.
"To sign a £15 million 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.
"If we had £100m to spend we may say 'we'll spend £15m and gamble one-sixth of our budget'. But it's not one-sixth of our budget, it'd smash our budget to bits.
"And he didn't keep Queens Park Rangers up. If he'd kept them up single-handedly you might say it was different - and a few of those goals were penalties."
Sullivan's comments drew a blistering response from Austin, who released a personal statement on Twitter defending his fitness and his professionalism.
"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," his statement read.
"It is one of a number of inaccurate reports about my so-called injury problems which have been made over the summer.
"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 match-day is non-existent.
"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 that I am today."