The centre-back is out of contract at the end of the season and has lost his place to Craig Dawson this term.
Irvine said: "I'm an admirer of Gareth McAuley. I said right from the beginning, when we brought Joleon in, we need four Premier League centre-backs and we've got four.
"I wouldn't want to lose Gareth. I know he's desperate to play but his opportunity could come at any moment. By the time he comes back from international games, who knows what could happen?
"Gareth is a really good centre-back and if we were to lose him we'd have a really big job on our hands trying to find someone as good as him."
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