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Middlesbrough are trying to hijack Newcastle United’s bid to bring French international Steed Malbranque to St James’ Park.

Glenn Roeder has identified the Fulham midfielder as one of his close season targets and he will be concerned about Middlesbrough’s move.

And he will be more concerned that Boro’s new boss Gareth Southgate has abandoned his television duties at the World Cup in Germany to try and snatch Malbranque from under United’s noses. Middlesbrough believe they could secure Malbranque’s services with a cut price £3.5m offer – capitalising on the fact that the French midfielder is out of contract come next June.

West Ham and Everton are also interested in Malbranque, but reports of interest from Liverpool appear to be wide of the mark.