SUNDERLAND could benefit from a two-way battle between his former clubs for Danny Graham’s signature.
The 28-year-old is surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light but the Black Cats are keen to recoup as much of the £5m fee Martin O’Neill paid Swansea for the striker last January.
And with Middlesbrough believed to be ready to challenge Watford for the permanent signing of Graham in the next few weeks, the Wearsiders may yet get more than they bargained for.
Graham was a flop at Sunderland, failing to score in 13 appearances for the club and was sent out on loan by both Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet.
His barren run continued at Steve Bruce’s Hull City, where he scored one goal in 18 league appearances but he revived his reputation on loan to Middlesbrough at the end of last season with six goals in 18 appearances.
The 28-year-old remains a favourite at Watford where he enjoyed a successful spell scoring 41 goals in 98 games between 2009-11 and the Hornets have come in for him as part of an ambitious bid for promotion.
Last season they finished mid-table, 10 points outside the play-off places but in the last few weeks they have already signed Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes and ex-West Brom centre-half Gabriel Tamas on free transfers while Leicester City’s Lloyd Dyer is due to be unveiled soon and moves are underway to re-sign Daniel Tozser and Matej Vydra.
They are understood to be keen to make Danny Graham a central part of their promotion push and have already approached Sunderland to discuss a move.
But Middlesbrough are also believed to be keen to re-sign the player and ready to talk terms before Watford steal a march on them.
Boro were set to declare their interest much later in the summer but are aware that Watford’s interest endangers their own plans.
Teessiders boss Aitor Karanka admitting at the end of last season that the club would be interested in taking him back next season.
And Boro are hopeful that the Tynesider’s links to the North East and the fact he is settled in the region, will sway things in their favour.