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Gareth McAuley tops Rangers list after West Brom split

By Graham Luney

The scramble for Gareth McAuley's signature will now intensify after West Brom released the Northern Ireland defender.

Set-piece specialist McAuley, signed by Roy Hodgson from Ipswich Town on a free transfer in 2011, scored 17 goals in 227 appearances - including a season's best tally of eight in 2016-17.

The fans' favourite is disappointed his seven-year stay at The Hawthorns has come to an end but he's not ready to hang up his boots.

Although now 38 years old, McAuley has demonstrated his Premier League class and there will be no shortage of clubs keen to bring him on board.

Even his hometown club Larne, now under the ownership of multi-millionaire businessman Kenny Bruce, have been linked with the centre-back.

A more realistic move would be to Scottish giants Rangers where new boss Steven Gerrard is continuing his revolution.

McAuley's international team-mate Jonny Evans has already left the Baggies to join Leicester City.

The relegated Baggies also confirmed that Claudio Yacob and Boaz Myhill will leave the club at the end of the month.

Boss Darren Moore said: "I would like to personally thank all three players for their loyal service to this football club and I wish them well in their respective futures.

"They have been absolute stalwarts of this club and they should all be proud of their time here.

"It was a very difficult decision not to offer each of them a new contract and I did not take that decision lightly.

"It was, however, a decision I felt was in the best interests of the football club."

Midfielder Yacob, who joined the club in 2012, played 175 times, netting twice, and goalkeeper Boaz Myhill made 82 appearances.

James Morrison, who is also out of contract but missed a large part of the campaign through injury, is due to report back for pre-season training on Monday.

Scotland international Morrison has not featured since September and made just six appearances due to a long-term Achilles problem.

"James has been training tirelessly throughout the summer and will join the first team next week," added Moore. "He has been frustrated by an Achilles injury for some time now but he is beginning to benefit from the endless hard work he has put in behind the scenes.

"We will be monitoring him in the coming weeks and we hope his improving fitness will result in game time in our pre-season fixtures."

Meanwhile, West Ham have announced the signing of Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski from Swansea.

• Northern Ireland international and Notts County captain Michael O'Connor has joined Lincoln City on a free transfer.

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