Downing told he can leave Boro on loan

Stewart Downing could spend the rest of the season away from Middlesbrough after being told he can leave on loan.

The 32-year-old former England international’s situation is being monitored by a series of potential suitors and Press Association Sport understands he will be allowed to make a temporary move after slipping out of contention at his home-town club.

Downing has been linked with neighbours Newcastle, who are currently engaged in a fight for promotion back to the Premier League, but might be more tempted by the chance to join forces with Sam Allardyce once again.

The midfielder prospered under the former Sunderland and England boss during their time together at West Ham, where he was used to good effect in a central role.

Allardyce is currently attempting to drag new club Crystal Palace out of an alarming tailspin, and is understood to have identified Downing as a potential recruit.

Boro head coach Aitor Karanka has included the player in his starting line-up only once since early November after revealing he had shown him videos to explain why he was no longer in the team, and used him only as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s 3-0 FA Cup third-round victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Downing is under contract on Teesside until the summer of 2019, but several clubs – some of them abroad – are thought to be interested in him.

It remains to be seen whether he would consider a return to the Sky Bet Championship – sources close to the player have indicated he would not – or whether Boro will consider loaning him to one of their rivals in the fight for top-flight survival.

Meanwhile, Boro striker David Nugent is closing in on a permanent move to Derby with his representatives in talks with the Championship club.