FORMER Newcastle United midfielder Lee Bowyer has described the regret he has that he never joined Liverpool - paving the way for his St James’ Park switch 12 months later.

Bowyer, now managing Charlton in the Championship after helping the Addicks to promotion ahead of Sunderland in last season’s play-off final at Wembley, had three years on Tyneside where he had his ups and downs under Sir Bobby Robson and Graeme Souness.

But the 43-year-old has revealed how he almost joined Liverpool in 2002 from Leeds United but suddenly decided to stay at Elland Road despite being halfway through a medical at Anfield.

Six months later he joined West Ham for half a season for £100,000 and then moved up to Newcastle the following summer.

“I was very close [to joining Liverpool] – I was halfway through a medical but it just didn’t feel right for me at the time,” Bowyer told MNF Retro.

“That is my biggest regret in football not going to Liverpool at that time. If I could’ve turned the clock back I would’ve gone. Looking back, I made the wrong decision.

“I knew my time was coming to an end at Leeds due to a few things behind the scenes that didn’t sit well with me so I knew it was my time to go.

“I thought doing another five years up north being a long way away from my family after doing six years at Leeds didn’t sit right but after all that I ended up going to Newcastle which is even further away, so it makes no sense!

“But at the time it just didn’t feel right, and that was the mistake I made.”

Bowyer, an attacking midfielder, was at his best during him time at Leeds. He helped them to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001, only to lose out to Valencia. He was also capped by England the following year.

Bowyer made 265 appearances for Leeds in all competitions, scoring 55 goals. He went on to have a further spell at the Hammers as well as Birmingham and Ipswich before retiring in 2012.

During his time at Newcastle he also played in the Champions League and infamously had a bust-up with team-mate Kieron Dyer during a game with Aston Villa under the management of Souness.

SUNDERLAND goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin is being targeted by Blackburn Rovers, among others.

McLaughlin is currently training away from the Academy of Light, like the rest of the Black Cats squad, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

And the 32-year-old Scotland international is doing his bit to keep fit by running through isolated forest paths in a bid to distance himself socially to avoid the virus.

When the football does restart, McLaughlin will be doing what he can to keep Sunderland firmly in the promotion mix and help the club back to the Championship.

But once the season is over he will be set for contract talks with manager Phil Parkinson, who has made him his No 1 since taking over having initially handed Lee Burge his chance.

McLaughlin’s performances have been good this season, even though the team’s form has dipped of late and he is no longer keeping as many clean sheets as he was during the excellent revival run.

And his performances have not gone unnoticed by higher league clubs, with teams in the Championship and the Scottish Premier League showing an interest.

Blackburn, who are not out of the Premier League promotion race just yet, are one of those.

Rovers boss Tony Mowbray is aware of the fact that McLaughlin is set to become a free agent in the summer and that Sunderland are yet to tie him to new terms.

There are fears the reliable shot-stopper could move on, having recovered from a dip in his own form just before Parkinson took over from Jack Ross in early November.

Sunderland have recorded 11 clean sheets so far and both McLaughlin and Parkinson hinted before the enforced break that they would like to have the situation resolved. He is willing to commit to a new deal at the Stadium of Light provided the terms are right and he feels wanted.

But he is known to have been disappointed discussions over a new contract are yet to start, and it is hard to imagine those taking place after the country went into lockdown in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Blackburn have made a new goalkeeper one of Mowbray’s priorities because their back-up shot-stopper Jayson Leutwiler is out of contract in the summer.

Leutwiler was originally brought to England by Mowbray when he was in charge of Middlesbrough and has since took him to Ewood Park.

Blackburn’s No 1, Christian Walton, is only on loan from Brighton and there is an interest in signing him on a permanent basis, which is why Mowbray is also looking for a cheaper alternative to compete for the starting spot.