By Wayne Veysey

9th Nov, 2021 | 4:10pm

Sources: Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Preston in race for Sunderland star Flanagan

Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Preston North End are in a race to sign Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan, Football Insider has learned.

The Northern Ireland international, 30, is out of contract at the Stadium of Light at the end of the season.

A recruitment source has told Football Insider that Championship trio City, Boro and Preston are monitoring Flanagan’s situation and whether he becomes available on a free next summer.

The centre-back has started all but two of Sunderland’s 16 League One games this season and has emerged as a key player under Lee Johnson.

The Black Cats currently sit in fifth, six points below league leaders Wigan Athletic.

If they fail in their fourth attempt to win promotion from the third-tier Flanagan may have the opportunity to step up to the Championship.

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The 10-time international has played over 100 games for Sunderland after his free transfer move from Burton Albion in June 2018.

Flanagan played 57 Championship games for Burton in two seasons and would offer good experience to Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Preston.

Preston may be in the market for a centre-back next summer with Sepp van den Berg set to return to Liverpool after his loan spell.

After initially being deployed at right wing-back by Frankie McAvoy, the Netherlands Under-21 international has started at the heart of defence in recent weeks.

Thomas Kalas and Robert Atkinson are currently Bristol City’s first-choice centre-back pairing.

At Boro, veteran Sol Bamba has lined up alongside Dael Fry and Paddy McNair in a back five but it may change under new manager Chris Wilder.

In other news, Kevin Phillips has tipped three new Sunderland signings after a Johnson reveal.