Belfast Telegraph

Paddy McNair 'wanted' by Celtic and three English sides while Conor Washington 'set' for Scotland switch

Paddy McNair (left) was the hero for Northern Ireland on what had been a difficult night in Borisov earlier this month.
Paddy McNair (left) was the hero for Northern Ireland on what had been a difficult night in Borisov earlier this month.

Northern Ireland midfielder Paddy McNair could be playing in the English or Scottish top flights next season, according to the latest transfer rumours.

Celtic have already made an enquiry about the 24-year-old, according to Teamtalk, while the Sun reports that Sheffield United are keen to bring McNair to the Premier League. English Championship sides Derby County and Blackburn have also been linked.

The Ballyclare man joined Middlesbrough just one year ago for a reported £5m but now the north east club could recoup most of that fee by offloading the NI international.

McNair started only seven Championship games for Boro last season but did his reputation plenty of good with a man of the match performance for Northern Ireland in Belarus earlier this month. McNair bagged the winning goal and contributed plenty more besides, with a leading display from central midfield.

He played 24 Premier League games for Manchester United, before moving to Sunderland in 2016.

The Ballyclare man, whose favoured position is central midfield, began his senior career at centre-half and has also played right-back for club and country.

It is thought his ability to play more than one position is attractive to Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder.

United are also said to be targeting Celtic winger Scott Sinclair.

"We have identified players and a little bit of a strategy and thinking of who we want," said Wilder.

"We want players of a certain age with a hunger and desire to go and compete in the Premier League and prove themselves.

"I think in the next week or two that everything will kick on and we are confident we will start seeing some names come in and that we will get deals done permanently."

Meanwhile, unattached Northern Ireland striker Conor Washington could be heading to Scotland.

Washington has been released by Sheffield United following the Blades' promotion but the Daily Record claim that the 27-year-old is close to finalising a move to Hearts.

The former QPR forward is said to be impressed by manager Craig Levein's vision for the Edinburgh side who lost out to Celtic in this year's Scottish Cup final.

Levein's assistant Austin MacPhee also works on Michael O'Neill's NI staff and has been key to convincing Washington to move to the Scottish capital.

Like McNair, Washington put himself in the shop window with an impressive international period, netting in Estonia after coming off the bench to spark a 2-1 comeback victory.

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