Sunderland target Stewart Downing but face competition from Middlesbrough - reports

Sunderland bound? West Ham United's Stewart Downing
Sunderland bound? West Ham United's Stewart Downing
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Stewart Downing could be heading back to the North East, with reports claiming Sunderland are chasing the England winger’s signature.

Signing a winger to bolster his side’s attacking flair is a summer priority for Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat.

And reports this morning suggest the Dutchman could make a move for the 30-year-old West Ham United wideman THIS week.

But the Black Cats could face competition from Championship neighbours Middlesbrough, Downing’s hometown and former club, report the Northern Echo.

Aitor Karanka is planning a big assault on the Championship after their play-off heartache and a move for Downing would be a clear signal of intent from the Riverside outfit.

Downing’s hefty wages of £80,000 a week would prove the biggest stumbling block for Boro, with Premier League Sunderland able to pay that level.

New West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic, who replaced Sam Allardyce, is keen to make big changes at Upton Park, with the London side willing to listen to offers for Downing.

Downing, who has also had spells at Aston Villa and Liverpool, has spent two years at West Ham and has 35 England caps to his name.

His improved form last season caught the eye of Advocaat and he could prove the answer to Advocaat’s problems on the wing.

Meanwhile, Sunderland have also been linked with a move for Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend.

The 23-year-old England international has also been touted with a move to Swansea City, Aston Villa and Steve McClaren’s Newcastle United.