NORTH-EAST rivals Middlesbrough and Sunderland are weighing up whether to offer Garry Monk the chance to bounce straight back into football after quitting to “consider life beyond Leeds United.”

The Whites are looking for a new first team coach and, in an ironic twist, have already discussed the merits of replacing Monk with former Boro boss Aitor Karanka, who has also been linked with Wolves.

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It means Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Leeds – all Championship rivals with eyes on making a statement in the Championship come August - are all searching for a new boss at the same time and Monk is high in the Tees-Wear clubs’ thinking.

Middlesbrough are stronger contenders because of the greater stability at the Riverside, where chairman Steve Gibson has already indicated he is willing to back whoever takes on the job.

Crystal Palace are also showing an interest after Sam Allardyce's decision to call it a day, while sources in West Yorkshire have sensed Monk will be in a new job sooner rather than later.

Despite their one season in the Premier League coming to an end at Liverpool last Sunday, Gibson has not clarified Steve Agnew’s position. The chairman is understood to have come up with a shortlist.

Former Middlesbrough skipper Nigel Pearson is still in Middlesbrough’s thinking, although Monk’s availability has strengthened the chances of him taking over.

It had been thought Monk was waiting to see if Andrea Radrizzani’s bid to takeover Leeds was successful before making a decision on his own future.

But the 38-year-old has decided to walk away from Elland Road despite that happening and Radrizzani claims the former Swansea boss was not willing to discuss a new deal.

"We are shocked and disappointed by Garry’s decision but his resignation has been reluctantly accepted by chairman Andrea Radrizzani,” said a club statement.

"Andrea made it clear to the media yesterday (Wednesday) that his intention was to exercise the club's option to extend the manager's contract for another 12 months and immediately begin negotiations for a longer term deal.

“Mr Radrizzani has met with Garry twice since taking over at Elland Road earlier this week and during the second meeting yesterday (Wednesday) it became clear Garry was considering life beyond Leeds United as at no time did Garry wish to discuss terms for a longer contract.

"Following that meeting Garry’s agent requested that the option was not exercised and his resignation was received this morning.

"Whilst we are deeply saddened by Garry’s decision, there is no individual bigger than our club and we will now begin a process to identify and appoint a new head coach to take the club to the next level.

"We thank Garry for his contribution during his time at Leeds United, we are disappointed that could not continue on this journey together.”

Monk impressed during his time at Leeds by transforming them into promotion contenders, only to come up short in the final two matches and slip out of the play-offs. He managed to improve the performances over the course of the campaign despite the uncertainty behind-the-scenes at Leeds.

That is why working under Gibson will appeal to him, knowing all about the chairman’s reputation to back his managerial appointments and the determination to invest in a promotion push.

But Pearson fancies his chances too and those are the two names under the most consideration with both Middlesbrough and Sunderland, as well as Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes by the Black Cats.

Karanka, meanwhile, is keen to stay in England and take his next step into management. Victor Orta’s move to Elland Road after leaving Middlesbrough would help Leeds’ chances if they decide to follow up interest in the Spaniard.