NEWCASTLE UNITED are considering a January move for Middlesbrough full-back Djed Spence, with Mike Ashley set to revert to his former policy of pursuing promising youngsters with a potential sell-on value if he remains in charge beyond the end of the year.

Ashley gave Steve Bruce the green light to change tack in the transfer market this summer, with the purchase of Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jeff Hendrick in particular reflecting a desire to add some proven Premier League experience to the squad.

However, with Newcastle having made a solid start to the season, if there are to be further additions in January, they are likely to be youngsters boasting the potential to develop in the future rather than more expensive senior performers.

Newcastle’s recruitment team have been assessing a number of possible long-term options in the last few weeks, and Spence is understood to be a player who has been earmarked as of particular interest.

The 20-year-old burst onto the first-team scene with Middlesbrough under Jonathan Woodgate last season, and has continued his development under Neil Warnock in the current campaign.

A dynamic, athletic defender, who can play as an orthodox right-back or as a right wing-back, Spence made 22 Championship appearances last term after breaking into the senior ranks in December.

He has been in and out of Boro’s starting line-up under Warnock this season, with his senior status having been underlined by the new contract that was penned this February, committing him to the Riverside until the summer of 2023.

Boro will be in no rush to sell the youngster at the turn of the year, especially if they are involved in a promotion battle, but the difficult financial position for clubs in the Football League could persuade Newcastle to test the water with an offer.

With DeAndre Yedlin out of favour, and neither Javier Manquillo nor Emil Krafth having been able to make the right-back spot their own in the first two months of the season, Bruce has fielded Jacob Murphy on the right of Newcastle’s back five in the last two games even though the 25-year-old has previously been regarded as more of a winger than a defender.