STEWART DOWNING will not be rushing into a decision over his future after Blackburn Rovers have emerged as one of the strong favourites for the Middlesbrough man.

The 34-year-old is set to leave his hometown club at the of June when his contract expires, unless chairman Steve Gibson comes up with fresh terms.

Downing could be a contender to join the coaching staff at the Riverside Stadium, particularly if Jonathan Woodgate lands the manager’s job.

But with that far from certain, Downing is considering all of his options and it has emerged Blackburn are seriously interested in taking him to Ewood Park.

Former Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray, in charge at Rovers, has huge respect for Downing and that the pair already have a decent relationship away from football.

And playing for Blackburn, where Harry Chapman moved in January permanently to join up with Danny Graham and Richie Smallwood, is a strong option for Downing to consider if he wants to stay in the Championship.

Steven Gerrard, a former team-mate of his for Liverpool and England, is known to have shown a degree of interest in taking Downing to Rangers, while a move to the United States and even Australia has also been mentioned.

The chances of Sunderland following up their interest now that they have failed to leave League One behind looks unlikely. Boro’s Championship rival Sheffield Wednesday, managed by Steve Bruce, are also keen.

Downing is prepared to take his time to consider his options, and a lot could depend on what happens at Boro in the next ten days.

Gibson is expected to have a new manager in charge before the end of next week after assessing all the credentials of the candidates to replace Tony Pulis.

Woodgate remains one of the favourites along with former Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic, whose track record does rank him high among fans, but wages may prove too costly.

Michael Reiziger, who has been carefully considered, has signed a new deal at Ajax where he has stepped up to become the assistant manager to Erik ten Haag.

Reiziger had been coaching the reserve team at the Champions league semi-finalists and had been mentioned for a return to Boro where he played in 2004.

And the Dutchman said: "This is a fantastic next step in my career at the most beautiful and largest club in the Netherlands.

"I am therefore very much looking forward to the new season, the collaboration with Erik and the other staff members."