Middlesbrough are hoping to complete the permanent signing of Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given today.
It is understood the 39-year-old Republic of Ireland international is to be released from the final year of his contract at Villa Park and will move back to the Riverside Stadium, where he spent three months on loan during the 2013-14 season.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka was hugely impressed with the vastly experienced keeper during his time on Teesside, and is keen to hand him a role in another push for promotion to the Barclays Premier League.
Given, who has been working towards his coaching qualifications, would provide stiff competition for current keepers Dimi Konstantopoulos, Tomas Mejias and Connor Ripley, although it is unlikely that Karanka would retain all four men.
Given, who has also played in the north-east for Sunderland and Newcastle, made just 10 appearances for Villa last season, seven of them in the domestic cup competitions including the FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal in May.
But he has re-established himself as Ireland’s number one in recent months and earned his 130th senior cap against Scotland last month after initially retiring from international football following the Euro 2012 finals.
Meanwhile, Boro remain hopeful of striking a deal to bring West Ham midfielder Stewart Downing back to his home-town club.
The 30-year-old, who is also in Sunderland’s sights, is understood to be keen on the move, but no deal has yet been agreed with the Hammers.