Town star could have played his last game

GARETH McAuley could well have played his last game for Ipswich Town.

GARETH McAuley could well have played his last game for Ipswich Town.

Believed to be on the verge of signing a new contract, only a week or two ago, McAuley has not yet put pen to paper.

In fact, manager Paul Jewell revealed yesterday that the major contract issues - featuring McAuley and skipper David Norris - were unlikely to be resolved before this season ends.

And the indications are that McAuley, like Norris, is considering other options.

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McAuley is a definite absentee for tomorrow’s visit of already-relegated Preston North End, due to a slight tear to his groin.

And that injury could also rule out the 31-year-old centre-half for the following weekend’s last game of the season, away at his former club Leicester City.

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McAuley’s current contract expires this summer, and the Northern Ireland stalwart could well begin next season at a different club, even though terms have been agreed for a new deal at Portman Road.

“What Gareth (McAuley) has asked for, we have agreed to,” explained Jewell.

“We are just waiting on an answer now. Maybe he has something else, that’s his prerogative, I don’t know.

“It has come this late that it’s going to go until after the end of the season now.

“It’s not going to make an awful lot of difference. We have made the offers and the players are mulling it over I guess.

“I can’t fault the players’ efforts, especially those who are out of contract. You can never question their commitment, especially as at one time it was looking like we would be embroiled in a relegation battle,” added Jewell.

Jewell had initially insisted that he would put a strict time-limit on the signing of new contracts, and yet since then only Damien Delaney, Luke Hyam and Ronan Murray have pledged their futures to Town.

The likes of McAuley, Norris, Colin Healy, Brian Murphy and Arran Lee-Barrett are the main senior players currently weighing up their options.

“The time span has been pushed back a little bit,” admitted Jewell.

“But it will certainly be resolved after the Leicester game.

“I have spoken to Gareth and David. They know the situation. It’s come this far and a week is not going to make a lot of difference.

“We do have contingency plans. I have told the players that. We are actively looking at other players, we have other irons in the fire.

“I’m not just sitting here biting my nails waiting for the news. I’ve got one plan if they sign, and another plan if they don’t.”

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