• Newcastle could make move for midfielder
• Downing cost Liverpool £20m two years ago
Stewart Downing is set to become the latest highly paid Liverpool player available for transfer, with Newcastle United a possible destination for the England international.
The Middlesbrough-born midfielder is valued at around £5m by Liverpool and has an uncertain Anfield future under Brendan Rodgers, despite forcing his way into the manager's plans impressively in the second half of last season. Downing was the subject of an inquiry from West Ham United last month and Newcastle are known to have an interest in him, although their immediate priority is to address their shortage of strikers.
Downing joined Liverpool for £20m from Aston Villa only two summers ago and was overlooked by Rodgers at the start of last season, having been told he could leave the club in January, before reclaiming his place as the side finished the campaign strongly.
The 29-year-old declined the chance to move in January and responded to West Ham's recent interest by stating: "It's not something I am going to consider." He added that Rodgers had told him "he's happy for me to stay" but conceded: "If I'm not in the team and not playing that is a discussion we will have to have then but at the minute I have absolutely no reason to leave." He was an unused substitute in Steven Gerrard's testimonial on Saturday and, with two years remaining on his £80,000-a-week contract and Rodgers hoping to increase competition for attacking places before the transfer deadline, Liverpool could be tempted by a permanent offer. Whether Downing feels the same remains to be seen.
Rodgers has added Iago Aspas to his attack this summer, maintains that Luis Suárez will not be sold to Arsenal for £40,000,001 and is hopeful of making progress on a £21.8m deal to sign Diego Costa from Atlético Madrid this week. Atlético concluded a pre-season tour of South America at the weekend and Liverpool are confident the Brazilian striker wants to leave the Spanish capital for Anfield. Rodgers is also looking to improve his options at left-back, with Guilherme Siqueira of Granada and Valencia's Aly Cissokho under consideration after the manager cooled on the proposed transfer of Lorenzo Melgarejo from Benfica.
Bolton Wanderers are trying to sign the midfielder Jay Spearing on a permanent deal. The 24-year-old enjoyed a successful spell on loan at The Reebok last season and is free to leave Liverpool.
Bolton's manager, Dougie Freedman, said: "Jay is a fantastic player, our player of the season, and available. We'll try our very best to make it happen."
Suárez took part in an open training session in front of Liverpool season ticket-holders at Anfield on Monday but could miss pre-season friendlies against Valerenga in Oslo on Wednesday and Saturday's date with Celtic in Dublin. His every move under scrutiny as he seeks a move to a Champions League club, Suárez did not acknowledge chants of support towards the end of the session when he trained apart from the rest of the squad. The Uruguay international is believed to have suffered a slight injury against Olympiakos and, given he is suspended for the first six matches of the new season, may miss Liverpool's final friendlies depending on his fitness.
Daniel Sturridge took part in the Anfield session as he returned to full training for the first time since damaging ankle ligaments in May. The 23-year-old was injured during England's friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley but is on target to be fit for the start of the season after an intensive rehabilitation programme this summer.
"I thought he looked very, very sharp," said Rodgers, who may include Sturridge in the squad for the Celtic game. "He obviously had an injury at the end of the season which set him back, but he's worked very hard along with the medical guys who have done a great job with him.
"It's a great testament to him he's kept himself fit and it was just waiting for the right time to introduce him. The game on Wednesday will probably be too much for him so we'll look towards the weekend. It's important he has another good week's training and it was great to see him back today, because for me he can be one of the top strikers in the Premier League this season."