By Harry Sykes
Sunderland and West Brom are eyeing summer moves for Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark, according to a report.
The 26-year-old had a fringe role in Villa’s wretched season that ended with a bottom-placed Premier League finish and relegation, making 18 appearances in the competition.
He is regarded as one of the Midlands clubs’ major assets but they are vulnerable to interest from top-flight clubs.
According to the Telegraph, Clark has a £5.1million release clause in his contract and could be offered a swift return to the Premier League.
The centre-back is one of the club’s longest-serving players after joining the Villa academy at the age of 11.
He has gone on to make 159 first-team appearances for Villa in all competitions, 134 of which have come in the Premier League.
Clark has also earned 16 senior caps for Republic of Ireland and is hoping to be named in their squad for Euro 2016 and in doing so put the pain of relegation behind him.