Sunderland and Middlesbrough are both sniffing around Stewart Downing following reports the West Ham midfielder would look favourably on a move up north.
Despite starting well for the Irons last season, the England International faded and is now expected to leave the east London Club this summer.
Sunderland, according to The Telegraph , are edging ahead in the race for the 30-year-old's signature due to their Premier League status.
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A move back to the north-east for the former Middlesbrough man, following the departure of Sam Allardyce who brought him to east London, would see him much closer to his family.