McAuely could be attracted to ‘bigger club’

NORTHERN Ireland manager Nigel Worthington would not be surprised to see central defender Gareth McAuley attracted to a ’bigger club’ before the start of next season.

Although there is no evidence of any official contact being made both Bolton Wanderers and Glasgow Rangers have been reported to be interested in signing the 30-year-old.

McAuley was due to win his 22nd full international cap when Northern Ireland took on Chile at the Estadio Municipal de Chillan last night with former Norwich City boss Worthington saying:

“I’ve known Gareth a long time and worked with him at Leicester City when I was there for a short period.

“He’s a good professional, very focused on his job and I’m not surprised that bigger clubs are being mentioned.

“The more players we can have at the top end of the league, whether it be the Premiership or the Premiership in Scotland, the better for the player and the better for us.”

McAuley, who is contracted to the Blues until the summer of 2011, lost the captaincy after the arrival of Roy Keane as manager at Portman Road although he formed a reliable partnership with Damien Delaney last season and was voted player of the year.

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Town watched Scunthorpe striker Gary Hooper a number of times last season, but reports suggest that Middlesbrough are in line to sign the free-scoring front man.

Speculation continues about Keane making a bid for a striker he admits he admires - Michael Chopra - but with the player on around �20,000 a week there is no certainty that an offer will be made that his club Cardiff City or the player would take too seriously.

Town defender Tommy Smith played a strong role in New Zealand’s 1-0 World Cup warm-up win over Serbia in Austria at the weekend.

He began at left back and then switched to playing on the left side of a back three, and looked to have done enough in his third senior Kiwi appearance to earn a starting place when the World Cup group stages start.

Liam Trotter looks set to join Millwall after helping them beat Swindon 1-0 at Wembley in the final of the League One play-offs at the weekend.

He has been offered a one-year deal by Town, but is keen to play regularly and Lions boss Kenny Jackett wants to sign him full time.

The 21-year-old helped Scunthorpe beat Millwall in last season’s play-off final and the Iron are also set to show interest in the former Northgate School pupil.

Former Ipswich player Scott Barron is currently playing his best football and he impressed for Millwall at right-back.

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