AITOR KARANKA will turn his attention back to Middlesbrough after making an initial assessment of his Nottingham Forest squad – with Adam Clayton and Patrick Bamford set to be at the top of his wanted list.

Karanka will meet his Nottingham Forest players for the first time today, having agreed a two-and-a-half year contract at the City Ground on Tuesday night.

The Spaniard has been out of work since his departure from the Riverside last March, and inherits a Forest side sitting in 14th position in the Championship table.

There is a smattering of talent in the squad that struggled under Karanka’s predecessor, Mark Warburton, as evidenced by Sunday’s thrilling FA Cup win over Arsenal. There is a lack of depth in a number of key areas though, and Karanka is expected to make at least a couple of signings before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

The former Boro boss has spent much of the last nine months in Spain, and while Forest’s scouting team will no doubt recommend a number of their own targets, it would be no surprise to see Karanka turning to players he knows he can trust.

The former Real Madrid assistant signed around half of the players in the current Boro squad, and with Tony Pulis having already confirmed that he is looking to move some players on this month, there is likely to be plenty of contact between Forest officials and their counterparts on Teesside in the next couple of weeks.

Clayton would be an obvious target, with the midfielder having played a prominent role under Karanka after the Spaniard signed him from Huddersfield in the summer of 2014.

Karanka singled out Clayton, Grant Leadbitter, George Friend, Daniel Ayala and Ben Gibson for special praise in an interview published by the ‘Coaches Voice’ website yesterday, in which he looked back on his time on Teesside.

Clayton was a second-half substitute in Boro’s FA Cup win over Sunderland last weekend, but the midfielder is yet to make his first start under Pulis and has slipped down the pecking order in the last few months.

He signed a three-year contract extension last March, but while Forest do not have a huge amount of finance available despite last summer’s £15m sale of Britt Assombalonga, Karanka should be in a position where he could table a realistic bid for Clayton if he so desired.

Buying Bamford would be more of a stretch, but Karanka is expected to explore the possibility of taking the striker on loan for the remainder of the season if he remains on the periphery of Pulis’ plans.

Karanka described Bamford as “the best player in the Championship” when he spent a season on loan at Middlesbrough, and sanctioned the permanent purchase of the striker last January for an initial fee of around £6m.

Bamford, who was a childhood Nottingham Forest fan, has made two substitute appearances under Pulis, but was not even in the squad for last weekend’s FA Cup win, with his long-term future on Teesside in doubt.

Meanwhile, George Miller will meet Pulis in the next few days to discuss his own position after returning from a loan spell at Wrexham.

The 21-year-old joined Boro from Bury in the summer, and has hinted he is keen to return to Wrexham after spending a successful month with the National League side.

“I have a meeting at Boro soon, and we will go from there and see what the options are, and what they want me to do,” said Miller. “I would never say never, and I would like to come back (to Wrexham) to be fair.

“I have spoken to the gaffer, and I can’t really say much, but maybe one day I could be back here in the not-too-distant future.”