McAuley on verge of Albion move

McAuley will be available on a free transfer on the expiry of his

contract at Ipswich and is poised to make the move to the Black

County in the next few days. It is hoped the arrival of the

31-year-old, who has won 28 caps for Northern Ireland, will bolster

a defence which leaked 71 goals in the Premier League this season.

Hodgson said: “He’s another centre-half, the Northern Ireland

captain who knows British football and he will be a very valuable

addition to our squad next year. “We are in discussions with the

player and his agent and are confident something will be finalised

in the coming week.” McAuley will enjoy his first taste of life in

the top flight if he joins the Baggies. He made just under 100

appearances for Ipswich during a three-year spell having previously

played for Lincoln and Leicester. Meanwhile, Hodgson has to decide

whether to take up a 12-month option on defender Abdoulaye Meite,

who will otherwise be out of contract next month. Meite was

recalled to the side when Hodgson took charge three months ago but

has been out of form in recent weeks and was taken off at half-time

against Newcastle on Sunday. Albion also have options they can take

up on fringe players Marek Cech, Gianni Zuiverloon and Giles

Barnes.