Sunderland are back in the race to sign Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing according to a report from the Teesside Gazette.

The 34-year-old winger, who has been capped by England on 35 occasions, is ending his second spell with Middlesbrough this summer after it was announced he was going to be released at the end of his contract. Over his two spells with the club, he has made over 330 league appearances for the club. He has also played for the likes of Aston Villa, Liverpool and West Ham United.

With Downing now being a free agent, Sunderland were said to be interested in the player. The veteran winger has some familiarity with the Black Cats having spent some time on loan with the club back in 2003. But with Sunderland failing to get promoted this season after losing to Charlton Athletic in the Sky Bet League One play-off final, they dropped their interest seemingly due to a lack of faith that he would sign for a team in the division below.

But now this report is suggesting that Sunderland are once again interested in Downing. It doesn’t go on to say why they now believe they will be able to sign him but it appears that they are confident that they can keep the former England man in the North East. Sunderland though are facing plenty of competition to try and sign him. Both Blackburn Rovers and Scottish giants Rangers are interested in signing Downing so the 34-year-old is going to have a big choice of where to go this summer.