Sheffield United and Middlesbrough target Newcastle United's unwanted fringe players

Ciaran Clark has emerged as a potential Sheffield United target for the left side of their central defence.

The 32-year-old Republic of Ireland international is one of a number of players Newcastle United are looking to move on as they look to upgrade their squad following last season's injection of money from Saudi Arabia. Another, centre-forward Dwight Gayle, is interesting Middlesbrough.

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Sheffield United make Manchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle their first signing...

Jack O'Connell all but defined the role of left-sided overlapping centre-back as the Blades rose through the divisions and finished ninth in their first season back in the Premier League.

SURPLUS: Newcastle United would like to move Ciaran Clark on

But O'Connell struggled with injury problems when the team returned after the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and has not played since September of that year after surgery on a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Jack Robinson has been the regular deputy since but Ben Davies - originally unsuccessfully targeted by then-manager Chris Wilder when O'Connell suffered his injury - was signed on loan from Liverpool last season to provide competition and failed to displace him.

Like Gayle, Clark was primarily signed to get Newcastle out of the Championship six years ago and has stayed ever since, but he was limited to 12 starts last season, none after Christmas.

This is the final year of Clark's lucrative contract. Sheffield United plan to use the loan market heavily this season and may try to borrow the 32-year-old with the Magpies subsidising his wages.

FROZEN OUT: Middlesbrough target Dwight Gayle is training with Newcastle United's youngsters

Birmingham City are also thought to have shown an interest.

The Blades' only signing so far this summer has been another Premier League loanee in Manchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle. They are also interested in forward Tom Lawrence, released by Derby County in the summer.

Gayle, who is also 32, has been training with Newcastle's academy players as the Magpies look to move him on.

Watford and Birmingham are rivalling Boro for his signature but Gayle's family are settled in the north east and the Teessiders' transformation under Wilder last season makes them an attractive prospect on the field too.

Last year, Gayle signed a three contract which, like Clark, puts his wages out of the reach of Championship clubs.

He scored 23 goals in their last season in the Championship, and the same on loan at West Bromwich Albion in 2018-19 but has made just 14 Premier League starts since and has only played 13 minutes since Eddie Howe took over as manager in November.

Wilder is anxious to secure some proven Championship goalscorers this summer after his side suffered badly for a lack of them last season.

Andrasz Sporar, Aaron Connolly and Florian Balogun have returned to their parent clubs after loans and Chuba Akpom and Uche Ikpeazu have been told they are not part of the plans for next season.

Boro's room for manoeuvre will increase if Tottenham Hotspur finally complete their long-awaited signing of wing-back Djed Spence. It is thought agreement on an initial £15m fee, rising to £20m is getting closer.

Spence was outstanding on loan at play-off winners Nottingham Forest last season but so was the right wing-back Boro kept, Isaiah Jones.

Former Boro midfielder Connor Malley is on trial with Huddersfield Town's B team.