MIDDLESBROUGH are confident of fending off competition from the Premier League after tabling a £5m offer for Sunderland midfielder Paddy McNair.

Boro officials made a formal approach for McNair over the weekend, and are keen to push through a deal for the Northern Ireland international as quickly as possible in order to see off competing interest from the top-flight.

Brighton, who have already seen a £3.5m offer for McNair rejected by the new hierarchy at the Stadium of Light, are expected to return with an improved bid in the next few days, while newly-promoted Wolves have also signalled an interest in the 23-year-old, who joined Sunderland from Manchester United in the summer of 2016.

However, Boro boss Tony Pulis is hoping his club’s proactive approach will enable them to leap to the front of queue for McNair’s services.

Pulis identified the midfielder as one of his leading summer targets at the end of last season, having been impressed by his performances after he returned from injury in the final weeks of last term.

McNair scored three goals in Sunderland’s final five matches as they dropped out of the Championship, and Pulis feels his goalscoring capabilities would enhance Boro’s current midfield mix.

Boro are short of a central midfielder after Mo Besic returned to Everton at the end of his loan spell, and neither Grant Leadbitter, Adam Clayton nor Jonny Howson boast a particularly impressive goals record.

McNair’s ability to break into the box and support those playing in front of him is regarded as a major asset, and Pulis is also attracted by the Northern Irishman’s age and potential for further improvement.

Having struggled to break into Manchester United’s first team during his time at Old Trafford, McNair has only made 32 league starts in the whole of his senior career.

Ideally, Sunderland boss Jack Ross would like to hold on to him, but McNair spoke of his desire to play at the highest level possible while on international duty at the start of the month, and there is an acceptance on Wearside that it will be extremely difficult to hold on to him this summer.

The main aim now is to secure the best price possible, and prior to Middlesbrough tabling their weekend offer, there had been a feeling that a fee of around £5m would be acceptable.

Boro could also find themselves fielding interest in a player in the next few days as their former boss, Aitor Karanka, is keen to take Patrick Bamford to the City Ground, having worked with the striker at the Riverside.