McAuley in line to be new skipper

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton today confirmed that new signing Gareth McAuley is in line to become the new Blues skipper.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton today confirmed that new signing Gareth McAuley is in line to become the new Blues skipper.

And the 28-year-old Northern Ireland international defender revealed that it would be an “honour” to step into the boots of former Town captain, Jason De Vos.

McAuley completed his transfer from Leicester yesterday lunchtime for a fee believed to be £1.1million.

“I am delighted to sign Gareth and he is under consideration to take over from Jason as club captain,” said Magilton.

“We will be assessing the situation in the days and perhaps weeks ahead before naming a new captain.

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“Ideally it would be great to have four or five leaders around the club - and on the pitch.”

And McAuley, who could well be joined at the heart of the Blues defence by Cardiff's Roger Johnson, says he will not be able to replace De Vos.

“From what I understand and from what I have seen playing against Ipswich, Jason was something special,” said McAuley.

“I cannot replace him, but I can do a similar job in my own way.

“I captained Leicester at times and if I was given the role at Portman Road it would be an honour and a privilege.”

With Leicester relegated from the Championship, McAuley is keen to pursue his career both at club and international level having started Northern Ireland's last six matches.

“Leicester put their cards on the table and there was no way I was going to leave in January,” said McAuley, who has signed a three-year deal at Portman Road.

“My hands were tied and I signed an extended contract thinking that with new players coming in Leicester would progress.

“But it did not happen and I am grateful that Ipswich kept their interest - it did not fade away.

“I want to be involved at the other end of the table next season and from what I have seen of the manager and the club I am confident that I will.”

McAuley has been impressed with the Ipswich set-up, and he said that he expected to be after quizzing former Town defender Jamie Clapham, a former team mate at the Walkers Stadium.

“There is so much history at this club and Jamie only had good things to say about Portman Road,” added McAuley, who is looking ahead to Town's two pre-season trips.

“It will be a case of going home - twice,” said the Larne-born player. “A week in Belfast will take me back to my roots and family and five days in Loughborough will take me back to where I am currently living.”

Magilton is pleased to finally land his man. He said: “Gareth has what it takes to play at a higher level.

“He attacks both boxes, defending his 18-yard box and scoring his quota of goals at the other end.

“To come through from non-league football he has shown a desire that I like and I have seen him play well at right back for Northern Ireland.”

With McAuley and Dutch defender Pim Balkestein signed this week, Magilton confirms that he is still seeking to add players to his back four.

Magilton was told by Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale that it would take a £3m offer for the Welsh club to part with giant defender Johnson.

However, Magilton feels there could be a deal to be done for the 25-year-old, who has just 12 months left to run on his contract at Ninian Park.

McAuley moved to England with Lincoln in 2004 and scored eight goals in 72 league appearances for the Imps before earning a move to the Championship with Leicester in 2006.

McAuley then scored five goals in 74 league appearances for the Foxes including two in one game against Ipswich in 2006/07.