TOTTENHAM are leading the race to sign Djed Spence, with Nottingham Forest already lining up potential alternatives to the Middlesbrough full-back.

Boro are ready to sell Spence this summer, with an expected fee of more than £15m effectively set to fund the club’s own recruitment drive as Chris Wilder looks to overhaul his squad.

The right-back spent last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, playing a pivotal role in the club’s promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, and officials at the City Ground have flagged up their desire to secure a permanent deal.

However, Tottenham’s interest is also at an advanced stage, and there is a growing confidence within the Spurs hierarchy that they will win the battle to sign the 21-year-old.

Boro do not really mind where Spence ends up provided their financial demands are met, so while the defender enjoyed his time with Forest last season, the opportunity to play for a side challenging for honours in the top half of the Premier League is set to swing things in Spurs’ favour.

Antonio Conte identified Spence as one of his key summer targets at an early stage of last season, and has instructed his club’s recruitment team to do whatever it takes to land the youngster.

That should be good news for Boro, who already have a hugely-promising right wing-back of their own in the shape of Isaiah Jones, but it would represent a significant blow to Forest, who would find themselves losing a key element of their promotion-winning team.

Tellingly, sources claim Forest have already begun to make moves for alternative right-back options, with Manchester City’s Issa Kabore the subject of growing interest. Kabore spent last season on loan at Ligue 1 side Troyes, and also helped Burkina Faso reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

City would like him to gain Premier League experience next season, and the fact Forest are understood to be considering an offer suggests there is an acceptance they are unlikely to be able to re-sign Spence if Spurs harden up their own interest as expected.

Meanwhile, former Boro boss Neil Warnock has been offered a route back into management with League One side Barnsley.

Warnock announced his retirement from football earlier this year, but Barnsley chief executive Khaled el-Ahmad has confirmed the Tykes have approached the 73-year-old about filling their managerial vacancy at Oakwell.

“I reached out to Neil, and I will be speaking to him again,” said el-Ahmad. “We haven’t got that far with him – there could be more names added to the final list.”