EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke

Rangers are set to lose out to Ipswich Town in the race to sign former West Brom defender Gareth McAuley on a free transfer, Football Insider sources understand.

McAuley is a free agent after leaving West Brom at the end of last season when his contract at the Hawthorns expired following seven successful seasons at the Hawthorns.

Rangers have been strongly linked with a move for the Northern Ireland international as Gers boss Steven Gerrard looks to bring in one more central defender, but a well-placed source has told Football Insider Ipswich are in pole position to land the powerful defender.

It will be regarded as a major blow to Gerrard to lose out on the proven performer.

Ipswich boss Paul Hurst is keen to bring in a new centre-back to bolster his defensive options after a difficult start to the new season.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Ipswich are rock bottom of the Championship having failed to win any of their opening five games and Hurst sees McAuley’s experience and leadership qualities as being a valuable addition to his squad.

McAuley is a big fans’ favourite at Ipswich after spending three years at Portman Road between 2008-11 before his move to West Brom.

The 38-year-old boasts a wealth of experience having made over 520 appearances in his career to date as well as winning 79 caps for Northern Ireland.

In other Rangers news, Football Insider can reveal the Glasgow giants are pulling out all the stops to land a 6ft 3in colossus after a £10million bid was rejected.