PADDY McNAIR looks certain to leave Middlesbrough this summer, with both Sheffield United and Celtic prepared to match the midfielder’s asking price.

Boro are willing to listen to offers for a host of players this summer following the failure to return to the Premier League.

And Sheffield United, who have also shown an interest in £15m striker Britt Assombalonga, have been in touch to discuss the availability of McNair.

The Northern Ireland international only moved to Middlesbrough for £5m from Sunderland last summer but found it hard to break into Tony Pulis’ team after collecting an early injury.

He did figure as a defender at the back end of the campaign and his versatility has made him an attractive option for the Blades’ manager Chris Wilder.

Sheffield United, gearing up for a first year back in the top-flight, are looking to strengthen and are willing to go somewhere close to the £5m that was paid to Sunderland a year ago.

Assombalonga remains on Wilder’s radar but there is a belief that they could prise Oli McBurnie or Neil Maupay away to head to South Yorkshire at less expense.

The Bramall Lane club would also be happy enough to match his wage and it could be financially where Celtic miss out.

The Scottish Premier League champions are seriously interested in him and Neil Lennon has admired him for a while, having watched him develop at Manchester United and for Lennon’s native Northern Ireland.

Middlesbrough have returned to pre-season training under Jonathan Woodgate and he is looking to shape the squad to suit his style in the coming weeks.

He has had numerous academy and Under-23s players training with the first team squad already this week, as he gives players such as Djed Spence, Connor Malley and Stephen Walker a closer look along with assistant Robbie Keane.

New first team coach Leo Percovich is due to return to the club this week to help out with pre-season training before the squad heads to Austria for the next stage of their summer schedule.

It has emerged that young Middlesbrough striker Mitchell Curry has been lined up for a season-long loan with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Middlesbrough’s departed Under-23s coach Paul Stephenson, meanwhile, has no qualms about leaving the club, despite his sudden exit.

The former Hartlepool man left earlier this month after spending just two years on Teesside – and now he is predicting Woodgate can do well with the youngsters he has left behind.

“It was a great experience and I think a lot of people, including Steve Gibson, recognised the work we did over the two years there,” Stephenson said.

“We had a great group of lads there who made some great progress in the time I was there, you look at the likes of Lewis Wing and Marcus Tavernier it shows the good work we were doing.

“I think they just wanted to take a different direction, that’s football and I understand that.”

He added: “I had a fantastic relationship with Jonathan. He was very supportive and delighted with the players’ progress. He loved coming to watch the under-23s play and the tempo and style we played.

“He was my link to the first team and I would have loved to continue that relationship. I think he has earned his chance with diligent, hard work over the past few seasons. He is very hard working and has a real love for the game which I think will shine through.

“He must be given time to implement his ideas and philosophy now, especially if he’s adding young players to his squad. I wish him and Boro all the best in the future.”