MIDDLESBROUGH’S next manager will face an immediate dilemma over the futures of two of the club’s most promising youngsters amid interest from the Premier League.

The search for Tony Pulis’ successor continued over the weekend when further talks were believed to have taken place with possible candidates.

Jonathan Woodgate remains the favourite for the job and has impressed Middlesbrough’s decision makers with his outlook for the club.

Barnsley’s Daniel Stendel has seen his price drop over the weekend and he is known to have been considered by Middlesbrough, while Slavisa Jokanovic, Mikel Arteta and Paul Heckingbottom are others still being mentioned.

But whoever is given the chance to try to revive Middlesbrough’s fortunes after two unsuccessful promotion bids will have to battle to keep a couple of key youngsters, Marcus Tavernier and Dael Fry.

Even though both players are under contract until 2021, it has become clear that interest in the pair has stepped up and Middlesbrough expect to receive offers this summer.

The two are seen as a big part of Middlesbrough’s future having graduated from the academy system and that is what the boardroom wants to encourage more of.

Tavernier has seen interest in him grow significantly over the last 12 months and there are clubs at home and abroad known to be keen. Bayer Leverkusen are one of those from Germany keen.

But there is also Premier League interest in him and Watford are ready to test the water following Middlesbrough’s failure to return to the top-flight under Pulis.

The Hornets are looking for talented youngsters with the potential to see their valuations soar at the higher level and fear they could lose a couple of their own wingers this summer.

AC Milan are considering making an offer for Gerard Deulofeu, while Torino are keen on Roberto Pereyra.

Watford know that they can’t afford to lose either of those without having replacements lined up and Tavernier is one of those they are keeping an eye on.

But Tavernier, who played for England’s Under-20s at the Toulon Tournament against Japan on Saturday, would not be short of options if Middlesbrough did listen to sizeable offers.

Aston Villa, newly-promoted, are also interested and interestingly they have also expressed an interest in his brother, James, who is the captain at Rangers.

Tavernier didn’t play as much football as he would have liked last season under Pulkis, who even admitted that one of his big frustrations was that he couldn’t start him more often – despite a lack of wingers within his squad.

Defensively Pulis was also hugely impressed with Fry and his displays have alerted Premier League clubs too.

New European champions Liverpool are known to be long-term admirers of Fry, although it is unclear whether they would follow that up and sign him now or wait to see how he develops.

That is why Burnley, who signed Ben Gibson last summer from Teesside, are looking to move in before the rest in the hope of striking a swift deal.

But Middlesbrough don’t have to sell such talents and would rather keep the likes of Fry and Tavernier and look to build a successful squad around them.

Middlesbrough have already indicated that Stewart Downing, Dimi Konstantoupoulos, John Obi Mikel and Anndy Lonergan have not been offered new deals.

And Middlesbrough would like changes to continue over the summer which is why they would be willing to listen to offers for big earners such as striker Britt Assombalonga.

Despite finishing as the team’s top scorer for the last two seasons, Assombalonga is not short of interest in him. It will just be a case of whether there is a cloub out there willing to match his wage demands and give Middlesbrough somewhere near to their £15m asking rice.

Sheffield United want him to form part of their squad for the Premier Legaue but would prefer to land him for half that, while Fulham have also listed him on their targets along with Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle.