Boss plans to resolve McAuley’s future at Hawthorns
DARREN Moore will hold contract talks with Gareth McAuley as soon as the veteran defender returns from international duty with Northern Ireland.
McAuley, who only made nine Premier League appearances last season, wants to continue playing next season, but is in contract limbo at Albion.
The 38-year-old left for Central America unsure whether the club wanted to extend his contract, which runs out at the end of June.
Hugely popular with fans since joining on a free transfer seven years ago, McAuley has signed one-year extensions in recent seasons.
Much will depend on how the transfer window pans out as to whether the he will be offered another one-year deal.
Moore is resigned to losing centreback Jonny Evans, with Leicester City, West Ham and Arsenal all keen to activate his £3 million release clause. And he might have a job on his hands to keep Craig Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi, who continue to be linked with top-flight clubs.
Were two centre-backs to leave, Moore would almost certainly offer McAuley a new deal as he looks to build a balanced squad capable of challenging for promotion.
James Morrison, Claudio Yacob and Boaz Myhill are also out of contract this summer.
McAuley headed off on international duty with Northern Ireland, not knowing if an extended stay is even an option.
“I’ve not spoken to West Brom, or no-one has been in contact with me since the end of the season,” he said.
“I don’t know where that sits. I haven’t been told, ‘We want you there or we don’t want you’. I’m not sure what the club is thinking about me.”
He added: “I want to play next year. Abroad would possibly interest me, but it doesn’t have to be somewhere warm or anything like that, I just want to be playing regular football. Hopefully I’ll have a couple of options to look at.”
He admits he was frustrated with just 456 minutes of top-flight action last term, but added he has no problems with new boss Moore.
“It’s been a difficult season – not having played an awful lot as well and it’s the first time I’ve experienced that in my career.
“I was trying my best to get back into the team but the reasons I was being given for not being included didn’t sit very well with me.
“But, in saying that, everyone wants to play and if you are not then you still have to support the boys who are pulling on the shirt. “I am absolutely fine with Darren Moore – he’s been great since he’s gone in there and put the values back into the club that were missing for a while.” Albion striker Salomon Rondon is also attracting interest from the Hammers and Cardiff. The Venezuelan is availa- ble for £16 million, thanks to a clause in his contract following Albion’s relegation.
And West Ham’s interest comes from new boss Manuel Pellegrini, who worked with him at Malaga, while Cardiff have also been heavily linked.
However, Rondon’s wages could be a stumbling block for the newly-promoted Bluebirds.
> Gareth McAuley could be offered a new deal. Below, Darren Moore