GRANT LEADBITTER has turned down offers from at least three Championship clubs in order to pursue a return to his boyhood team Sunderland.

Leadbitter is set to undergo a medical at Sunderland’s Academy of Light training ground in the next 24 hours, with his permanent move from Middlesbrough expected to be completed before the weekend.

The 33-year-old will agree a substantial wage cut to return to the Black Cats, having grown frustrated at his lack of involvement in Middlesbrough’s first team this season.

Leadbitter has been a regular presence in the cup competitions, but has not made a single league appearance under Tony Pulis since the middle of August.

His lack of action alerted a number of Championship clubs to his possible availability, and Ipswich Town, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers are all known to have made formal approaches since the transfer window opened at the start of the month.

However, even though all three clubs would have been willing to pay higher wages than Sunderland, Leadbitter rejected everything that was put to him.

That changed when Sunderland formalised their own interest, with the central midfielder expressing excitement at the possibility of ending his career at the club that enabled him to take his first steps in the game.

Leadbitter, who hails from Fencehouses, made 123 appearances for the Black Cats, and was part of the squad that won promotion to the Premier League under Roy Keane in 2007.

With Sunderland not having a game this weekend because of the FA Cup fourth round, Leadbitter could start his second spell with the club with an appearance in the League One home game with AFC Wimbledon a week on Saturday.