SUNDERLAND

Simon Grayson is ready to turn to Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack in his bid to bolster Sunderland’s attacking ranks.

He has already persuaded James Vaughan – who made his first appearance in Saturday’s defeat at St Johnstone – to step up from League One side Bury.

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Now he is looking at bringing McCormack to Wearside from the Villans, where he has not been part of Steve Bruce’s plans.

Bruce is planning a major summer clear-out and McCormack could be one of those moved on, and Grayson would like someone of his attacking quality in his ranks.

Grayson knows he is short in the attacking area and McCormack was one of the hottest attacking talents in the Championship during his time at Fulham and Leeds. Middlesbrough regularly tried to buy him.

MIDDLESBROUGH

Stewart Downing will be heading for talks with Birmingham City this week as a second spell at the Riverside appears to be nearing an end.

The 32-year-old winger – who was left out of the friendly with Chesterfield on Saturday - has been told he can leave Boro on a free by manager Garry Monk and Harry Redknapp wants him at St Andrew’s.

Redknapp has also outlined a wish to sign Robbie Keane and Ashley Cole as he looks to make Birmingham a force to be reckoned with in the Championship.

"Stewart Downing is a proper player, got a great left foot, he's fit as a fiddle," said Redknapp. "Whether we could afford him I don't know.

“Wage-wise I don't know where we would go with it, I haven't got a clue what he earns, and he belongs to Middlesbrough , but I think they've said he can go on a free, so he's of interest.”

Middlesbrough – who beat Chesterfield 2-0 in Portugal - have again been linked with Bojan Krkic, who is available from Stoke. However, it is unlikely he will move to Teesside now that Aitor Karanka has left.

NEWCASTLE

Rafael Benitez will take his players to Ireland today and is hoping for a transfer breakthrough.

Jacob Murphy, the Norwich man, is the only topic in town at this stage because the Magpies have increased their offer.

It is understood Newcastle have offered £10m for his services but Norwich are still demanding £16m and that is causing problems.

While Benitez wants to make additions to his forward line, he has been linked again this morning with another defender.

This time the Newcastle boss has been credited with an interest in Alaves centre-back Fouhair Feddal. The 6ft 3in defender has a buy-out clause of just £2.6m.

Benitez’s main aim in the next few days, though, is to progress his push for attacking reinforcements like Murphy.

Newcastle are still looking to move players on, which is also not helping the drive for new recruits. Benitez has a big squad and plenty of players are available, but none are close to leaving.