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Baggies sign defender McAuley

West Bromwich Albion have signed Ipswich defender Gareth McAuley on a free transfer as manager Roy Hodgson attempts to shore up his leaky defence.

McAuley, who made nearly 100 appearances in three years for Tractor Boys, has signed a contract that will keep him at the Hawthorns until the summer of 2014.

The Baggies conceded 71 goals in their 38 Premier League matches - an average of just under two goals per game - and will hope the Northern Ireland international, who has 28 caps for his country, can help reduce that figure.

McAuley, 31, will be tasting life in the top flight for the first time, having previously played for Lincoln and Leicester City.

Hodgson said: "We believe the time is right for him to embark on a career in the Premier League after doing so well in the Championship and for his country.

"We are very happy, in the face of lots of competition, to have acquired his services and persuaded him to join us. He is the Northern Ireland captain who knows British football and he will be a very valuable addition to our squad next year."

McAuley is currently preparing for his country's Carling Nations Cup matches against the Republic of Ireland and Wales.

He opted to leave Leicester for Ipswich after their relegation to League One in 2008. In total he has made 295 career appearances, scoring 25 goals.

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