Sunderland likely to miss out to Middlesbrough over on Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing.
Stewart Downing.
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Sunderland look likely to miss out on transfer target Stewart Downing.

The winger Stewart Downing is close to completing a return to Middlesbrough after West Ham gave him permission to speak to his hometown club.

The 30-year-old will have a medical examination on Thursday before meeting with chairman Steve Gibson, it is understood.

He will then join the Boro squad at their Marbella training camp.

The Black Cats were reportedly interested in signing their former loanee but the lure of a return to his hometwon club has proved too mush

Downing, capped 35 times by England, left the Riverside for Aston Villa in July 2009, before moving to Liverpool.

He has been with West Ham since 2013 and made 37 Premier League appearances for the Hammers in 2014-15, with his early-season performances earning him an England recall in November.

Since making his professional debut for the Teessiders in May 2002, he has made 493 appearances in all competitions, scoring 50 goals.

Middlesbrough were beaten by Norwich City in the Championship play-off final at Wembley in May