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Jonas Olsson believes it is crucial for West Bromwich Albion to persuade Gareth McAuley to sign a contract extension at the club.

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Swedish defender Olsson admits his partnership with McAuley was part of the reason he committed himself to a four-year extension in the summer. And he has welcomed Albion's move to hold discussions over a new deal with the 33-year-old Northern Ireland international.

McAuley has 15 months remaining on his existing contract, but Olsson believes continuity at The Hawthorns is the reason for the Baggie's continual improvement over the last three seasons.

"It is vital to keep Gaz. We have formed a good partnership over the last couple of seasons and when I signed my contract one of the big reasons was that I enjoy playing alongside Gaz so much," Olsson said. "For me it is vital that we keep him. Continuity has been important - keeping players.

"From when I came here five years ago, James Morrison and Graham Dorrans are still here, Chris Brunt is here and Steven Reid has been here for a while, and so has Youssouf Mulumbu. That experience from those kind of players and being able to keep good players has been important. Players have had good seasons and we haven't lost many players we didn't want to lose."

Olsson is convinced the continuity has played a part in Albion's bid for a top-six finish this season, and he believes that is still a realistic target, despite defeat against Chelsea last Saturday.

The club face Swansea, who are one place ahead of them, this weekend knowing they will need a victory if they want to catch Everton, who currently occupy sixth, with five more points than Steve Clarke's side.

"Swansea won at the weekend but if we are in the top six, seven or eight after 28 rounds, like we are, why can't we be up there after 38?" Olsson said.

"That's what I think is realistic. There is too big a gap up to the top five but there are four or five teams pushing for sixth or seventh. I am aiming to stay up there and push for a better position than last year and then see if we can get into Europe."


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