MIDDLESBROUGH are anticipating a summer of intense transfer interest, with both Isaiah Jones and Djed Spence attracting growing attention from clubs in the Premier League and beyond.

Spence, who is on loan at Nottingham Forest, is regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in the whole of the Football League, and the 21-year-old was the subject of inquiries from both Arsenal and Tottenham during the January transfer window.

The Boro hierarchy were braced for a series of formal approaches on deadline day, but the window closed with Spence still on the club’s books, albeit while on his temporary stint at Nottingham Forest.

As things stand, the right-back, who is at the heart of an international tug-of-war between England and Jamaica, is due to return to Rockliffe Park for the start of pre-season training in the summer, but there is every chance Boro will find themselves fielding offers for his services.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is expected to push for Spence’s signature, while Tottenham’s recruitment team are known to have the youngster’s name in a prominent position on their wanted list.

With Liverpool also having been touted as potential suitors, there is every chance Boro could earn at least £15m from selling Spence in the close season, a move that would eradicate any issues regarding Financial Fair Play Regulations if they were to find themselves in the Championship next season.

However, while Chris Wilder has always known he would have a decision to make over Spence once the transfer window reopens, Jones’ scintillating form over the last few months has also seen him become the subject of growing interest from clubs in the top-flight.

The 22-year-old was a complete unknown at the start of the season, but he has exploded onto the first-team scene under first Neil Warnock and then Wilder, to the point where he was named Championship Player of the Month for December.

If anything, his performance levels have improved since the turn of the year – he provided yet another assist when he set up Marcus Tavernier’s winner in Tuesday’s victory over West Brom – and there is now an increased likelihood of clubs attempting to sign him in the summer.

West Ham are known to have scouted him extensively in the last few months, while Arsenal are understood to regard him as a viable alternative to Spence. In addition, overseas media outlets have suggested that Ajax, RB Leipzig and Lyon have all been monitoring Jones’ progress closely, with a view to potentially making a move at the end of the season.

Wilder would be extremely reluctant to lose Jones, having put a lot of faith in the youngster’s progress during his time on Teesside, although Spence would be able to slot in as a ready-made replacement if Boro opted to sell the former rather than the latter in the summer.

Whatever happens, the Teessiders are in the welcome position of having two extremely saleable assets in the same position, with Wilder’s planning for his own summer strengthening drive already well under way.

“The planning for the summer transfer window has already started,” said the Boro boss. “In fact, it started before transfer window one (January).

“We’re forever assessing, and it is perhaps the biggest challenge and the biggest part of the job in terms of assessing who is going to be on the journey. Some will be on the journey for a short period, some a little bit longer, and some long term.”

Clearly, Boro’s ambitions would be transformed at a stroke if they were to win promotion, and the possibility of spending next season in the Premier League is being factored into the club’s planning.

“If we do get promoted to the promised land, then it’s a lovely problem to have, once that final whistle goes in the final game,” said Wilder. “It would be a great situation to be in, but even as we stand, there are probably about 13 or 14 clubs that would love that to happen.

“If that comes around for us, it’s a situation we would embrace and look to move on quickly from there. For now, though, we’re really looking at position-specific (targets) and then we’ll see where we go from there.”