Sunderland’s heartbreaking defeat in the League One play-off final could cost them the chance to sign Stewart Downing from local rivals Middlesbrough, according to the Gazette Live, with the veteran winger reluctant to drop down a division.
Downing turns 35 in July and needs to make a decision about what is likely to be the last big move of his professional career.
The former England international will be a free agent when his Boro contract expires next month and he is hardly short of offers.
Steven Gerrard is keen to reunite with his former Liverpool and Three Lions team-mate at Rangers while Blackburn Rovers have also held talks with Downing.
But where do Sunderland stand? Gazette Live claims that the chance to stay in the North East would appeal to the Middlesbrough-born attacker, who would rather not uproot his family at such short notice.
The report adds, however, that Downing has little interest in playing in the third tier of English football.
Sunderland have been consigned to another season in League One after conceding a 94th minute winner against Charlton Athletic at Wembley last month.
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