Ex-Middlesbrough, West Ham and Manchester United striker returns to rivals after New York loan

Ex-Sunderland, Manchester United, West Ham and Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher has returned to Watford following a loan at New York Red Bulls.

Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 10:44 am

The 26-year-old frontman joined the Black Cats on loan from Middlesbrough in January 2018 but scored just two goals in 16 appearances in the Championship following the move.

The one-time Manchester United striker stayed at Middlesbrough for another three campaigns upon his return to Teesside before joining Watford on a free transfer, with the Hornets playing in the Premier League at the time.

Fletcher scored his first goal for the club on his debut in a Carabao Cup tie against Crystal Palace in August last year but struggled for game time at Vicarage Road and was loaned out to MLS club New York Red Bulls.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Ashley Fletcher of Sunderland and Joel Lynch of QPR in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between QPR and Sunderland at Loftus Road on March 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

New York Red Bulls signed Fletcher on a six-month loan deal with an option to buy during this summer’s window. However, that option has not been taken up with the player’s temporary transfer in America officially ending on July 11, with Fletcher having made seven appearances for the Red Bulls, scoring no goals.

Fletcher will now return to Watford, who were relegated to the Championship last season, and could potentially face former clubs Sunderland and Middlesbrough throughout the course of the season.

Middlesbrough are aiming for a play-off and promotion push under former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder whilst Sunderland have so far concluded permanent deals for Leon Dajaku, Dan Ballard and Jack Clarke and have also secured the long-term futures of Lynden Gooch, Bailey Wright and Patrick Roberts.