Middlesbrough to battle Aston Villa for Brentford ace with goalkeeper poised to join Championship rivals Preston North End

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Middlesbrough have been credited with an interest in Brentford duo Romaine Sawyers and Neal Maupay.

Boro face competition from Championship rivals Aston Villa for midfielder Sawyers should Tony Pulis make a move for the Brentford ace.

The midfielder has 18 months left on his contract at Griffin Park and, while Boro are yet to make an offer, they are mulling over a switch this month.

Aston Villa also remain keen on the St Kitts and Nevis international. Head coach Dean Smith worked with Sawyers at Brentford and Walsall.

Pulis is looking to add creativity to his Boro squad this month, with the Riverside outfit also linked with a move for 22-year-old forward Maupay, though reports in London claim the Bees would be looking for a 'sizeable fee' for the Frenchman.

Sawyers, 27, has made 115 appearances for the Bees, scoring eight times.

Meanwhile, Boro stopper Connor Ripley is due to depart the Riverside this month on a permanent deal to Championship rivals Preston North End.

The 25-year-old has been on loan at League One Accrington Stanley and has impressed at the Lancashire club.

Preston have made their move and the deal is expected to be confirmed in the next 24-hours, with Ripley bringing an end to his spell at Boro,.

The fee will be undisclosed, the deal subject to a medical.

Ripley - who had 18-months left on his Boro contract - has played 24 times for Stanley, keeping five clean sheets.

He has previously been on loan at Bury, Oldham, Motherwell, Burton, Bradford and Oxford.

* Middlesbrough have confirmed the kick-off time for the home fixture against Leeds United has been brought forward at the request of the police.

The game, scheduled for Saturday February 9, will now kick-off at the earlier time of 1pm.