Delaney faces up to likely McAuley exit

DAMIEN Delaney looks set to lose his central defensive partner for next season.

DAMIEN Delaney looks set to lose his central defensive partner for next season.

Fellow centre-back Gareth McAuley, who missed Saturday’s 2-1 win over Preston due to a groin injury, could be heading to Scottish giants Rangers this summer.

Delaney, who recently signed a new two-year deal, recognises that both McAuley and skipper David Norris could be on their way in the next few weeks. Norris looks poised to sign for Portsmouth.

“I know they (McAuley and Norris) both want to stay, but I’m sure if they get better offers then they are grown men and they are old enough to make up their own minds,” explained Delaney.

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“If they decide to go, then they go. I can’t say whether they are staying or not. I haven’t spoken to Gareth too much this week, because he is injured.

“I think Chuck (Norris) went in for more talks last Thursday or Friday.

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“I don’t think their deals are any more complex than mine,” added Delaney.

Ever-present for Town’s last 23 games, Delaney revealed that it was not a terribly tough decision to stay at Portman Road – his original contract also expired this summer.

“For me, it was simple,” insisted Delaney.

“After Norwich (5-1 defeat), there were still 18,000 supporters who turned up today, which shows the type of fans that we have here.

“If I’m being honest, after the Norwich game I was only expecting 9,000 or 10,000 to turn up, which would have been more than justified. But they are dedicated to the club.

“I’m quite settled here. You look around the Championship and I don’t think there are many clubs better than this,” added Delaney.

The Republic of Ireland international also has a message for the club’s owner, Marcus Evans, and Chief Executive Simon Clegg – sign up Jimmy Bullard.

Delaney insists that it is worth the gamble to sign Bullard, Town’s newly-crowned Player-of-the-Year, despite the big finances involved in securing such a deal.

“I most certainly hope that we do sign Jimmy,” announced Delaney.

“I think the lads would love him, not only for what he gives us on the pitch, but because he’s a good lad to have around the changing room.

“There is never a dull minute, and I’m sure the club will be working hard behind the scenes to try and sign him.

“I know for a fact that he wants to stay here.

“Jimmy said to me that if something got sorted out, he would stay. It’s just up to the two clubs to get something sorted out.

“He’s going to cost an arm and leg, but I think he’s worth it.

“I know the club has a financial structure in place, but you see what he has given to the club over the last 15 or 16 games.

“He gives us all a real buzz and a feel-good factor around the place.”

Meanwhile, Town boss Paul Jewell was frustrated that his side could not build on their dynamic start, following the early goals from Jason Scotland David Norris.

“Preston pushed us back and played well in the second half, but from our point of view we have to do better,” admitted Jewell.

“It’s nice to get the victory, because we were a bit depleted as well, but it would have been good for the fans, who have been great all season, to have put on a decent performance for them.

“We were cruising at half-time, but you never get the feeling with this team that we are going to win comfortably.”

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