MIDDLESBROUGH will face competition from Premier League new-boys Huddersfield Town as they look to make Nottingham Forest striker Britt Assombalonga their first summer signing.

Boro boss Garry Monk will meet a number of his Boro players for the first time when they return to pre-season training later this week, and is keen to give the vast majority a chance to stake a claim for a place in next season’s squad.

However, he accepts changes will be necessary in the wake of last season’s relegation, and has identified a lack of attacking creativity and goalscoring prowess as a key factor behind last term’s struggles.

Things have got worse in that department since the end of the season, with leading goalscorer Alvaro Negedro having returned to Valencia after his season-long loan, and Monk has identified Assombalonga as a leading target as he looks to bolster his side’s attack.

The 24-year-old only signed a five-year deal with Forest last September, but even though he claimed 14 Championship goals last season, the financial situation at the City Ground means he could be sacrificed to enable Forest boss Mark Warburton to make signings of his own.

Boro have already made an initial inquiry to sound out Forest’s position, but they will not have things their own way if they step up their interest.

Huddersfield are looking to make reinforcements as they prepare for their first season in the Premier League, and Assombalonga is one of the players David Wagner has flagged up as capable of making the step up from the second tier.

Nottingham Forest shelled out £5.5m to sign the striker from Peterborough United in 2014, but will be looking for at least double that amount if they are to sell him on this summer.

Huddersfield are set to receive a £100m windfall in the wake of their promotion success, and Boro officials will be wary of entering into a bidding war with a club in the top-flight.

However, Steve Gibson is determined to back Monk in the transfer market this summer, and with the Teessiders guaranteed a parachute payment of around £45m to help soften the financial blow of relegation, Assombalonga remains one of their leading targets.

Gibson is adamant there is no need to sell players this summer unless they do not form part of Monk’s plans, so Watford’s interest in left-back George Friend will be repelled.

Watford are looking for alternatives to Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, who they regard as too expensive, and have been credited with an interest in Friend.

West Brom and Burnley have also been linked with the left-back, but with Friend having been such an influential part of Boro’s promotion success two seasons ago, there is no chance of the 29-year-old leaving the Riverside this summer.