(Reuters) - West Bromwich Albion are likely to hand the Premier League’s oldest outfield player Gareth McAuley a new contract, manager Tony Pulis said ahead of Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace.
The 37-year-old defender is the club’s joint-top scorer with striker Salomon Rondon with seven goals in all competitions this season.
“Gareth McAuley has been fantastic and we are very close to agreeing a new deal with him. His performances have been special,” Pulis told reporters on Friday.
“McAuley’s fitness level is first class. He’s a wonderful lad around the dressing room. He’s a block you want to build around.”
West Brom have been boosted by the return of defender Craig Dawson, who sustained a minor injury last week, but will be without influential winger Matt Philips, who has scored four goals this season.
Pulis declined to comment on his ongoing legal battle with Palace, after the Premier League Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal ordered him to pay 3.7 million pounds ($4.52 million) in damages to his former club following his departure.
British media reported this week that Pulis had not yet carried out the tribunal’s instructions, after it ruled that he had secured an early payment of his bonus from Palace by “deceit”.
“The situation is the lawyers have told me not to say anything and when the situation is concluded then I will have my say on it,” Pulis added.
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Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans