As reported on The72 last week, Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing has recently been attracting attention from Scottish Premier League giants Rangers.

Now with the Middlesbrough wide man’s contract up in the summer, this has put several clubs on high alert, including local rivals Sunderland, according to The Northern Echo.

The 34-year old has been a bit part player since the turn of the year, due to a strange clause in his contract. Downing is currently unable to start league games due to a clause which would see an increase in wages and automatically trigger a one-year extension.

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With Boro boss Tony Pulis not willing to exercise this option, he has been limited to appearances from the substitutes bench. Most recently Downing was subbed on in the 32nd minute against Aston Villa for right back Ryan Shotton – a game which they lost 3-0.

It is not yet known whether Downing prefers a move to Rangers or to Sunderland, but all could hinge on whether the Black Cats get promoted from League One up to the Championship at the end of the season. Jack Ross’ side currently sit fourth, but are just five points off an automatic promotion place, with two games in hand on the teams above.

Downing has been affiliated with his boyhood club Middlesbrough since 2001, when he signed his first professional contract. He left eight years later, having spells at Aston Villa, Liverpool and West Ham United, before rejoining the North-East side back in 2015, where he has remained ever since.

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Lifelong Boro fan - from the highs of watching Juninho and the Carling Cup victory, to the lows of Gordon Strachan and Lee Dong Gook