By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Everton have joined the race to sign Newcastle winger Andros Townsend, according to a report.
The Sun claim that the Merseysiders have held talks with the relegated club about a summer deal for the 24-year-old.
It is said they are one of six clubs pursuing Townsend, along with Crystal Palace, Southampton, Stoke, Watford and Swansea.
Townsend is contracted to the Magpies until June 2021 following his £12million move from Tottenham but he has a release clause of £12million and his potential suitors may well be inclined to move sooner rather than later to secure his services.
The Sun report there has not yet been a formal bid for the wide player but there have been a number of approaches, including from Everton.
The England international was included in Roy Hodgson’s 26-man squad for Euro 2016 but failed to make the final 23.
Townsend is open to a move to Premier League side this summer if his reported release clause is activated.
Following early teething troubles in the north-east, Townsend emerged as a key figure in Newcastle’s survival bid under Benitez and his record of four goals in 13 Premier League games for the club was enough to earn him a place in England’s provisional 26-man squad for Euro 2016.
But manager Roy Hodgson decided against taking Townsend to France, despite an impressive substitutes’ appearance against Australia at the Stadium of Light.
In other Newcastle news, another one of the Magpies players has hinted he has decided to stay at St James’ Park this summer.