CHRIS WILDER admits Djed Spence has expressed a desire to leave Middlesbrough this summer – but has warned the wantaway wing-back he will be expected to return to pre-season training at Rockliffe Park if a deal cannot be agreed with Tottenham.

Spence is the subject of strong interest from Spurs, having excelled during a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, but the London club are yet to table a formal offer for his services.

A bid is anticipated for the 21-year-old, but with Boro valuing Spence at more than £20m, it is far from certain that Spurs are willing to meet the Teessiders’ asking price.

That could result in a stand-off, and while Forest remain interested in re-signing last season’s loanee, the clock is ticking with the majority of Boro’s first-team squad already back in training.

Spence was always going to be one of the later returnees, having played for Forest in the play-off final at the end of May, but if there is no progress in transfer talks in the next couple of weeks, he will be instructed to return to Rockliffe to join up with the rest of the Boro squad.

“If nothing happens with Djed, then he’s our player and he’ll be back for pre-season,” said Wilder, who will oversee Boro’s first pre-season game at Bishop Auckland next Saturday. “From my point of view, negotiations between Kieran (Scott), Neil (Bausor), Steve (Gibson) and Tottenham stay between Kieran, Neil, Steve and Tottenham.

“If the deal doesn’t get done, we’ll see where we go from there. Have I got an input into it? Yeah, 100 per cent. The boy obviously doesn’t want to come back here, which I’ve got absolutely no issue with. He obviously sees his future away from here, and he had a brilliant season last season.

“We’re expecting that deal to happen, but if it doesn’t, then he’s our player. From a club point of view, the deal has to be right. We’re not trying to stand in the way of anybody. I’ve never done that as a manager, and I’ve had plenty of situations before where opportunities have come along to players.

“But there’s always three parties involved in any deal, and it’s got to be right for all three parties for it to happen. It’s got to be right for the player, and obviously from the noises, it sounds as though that’s (Spurs) where he wants to go. Tottenham want him, and we’re prepared for that. But it’s got to be right for us too. It all needs to marry up.”

Spurs are understood to be looking to pay a relatively low initial fee for Spence – perhaps around £10m – with potential add-ons increasing the total value of the deal.

However, while Boro will want to cover themselves in terms of future sell-on clauses, with Spence one of the most highly-rated youngsters in the country, they will also want to extract an up-front payment that acknowledges the strides the defender has already made.

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With other Championship players being valued at more than £20m, there is an understandable determination not to be backed into a corner just because Spence is clearly keen to join Spurs.

“We’re a reasonable football club,” continued Wilder. “But some of the numbers you sometimes get quoted are ridiculous and we’re not going to allow anyone to take advantage of us.

“We got quoted £20-25m for a forward playing in the Championship recently, but we didn’t think that was a fair number. We’re prepared to pay fair numbers, as we always have done, but we’re not going to be silly, and we’re certainly not going to be giving our players away for a fee we don’t think is right. Ultimately, Djed’s our player.”

Similarly, while Wilder accepts that Spence’s departure will make it easier for Boro to spend money on signings of their own, he is adamant the club does not need to raise funds through the full-back’s sale in order to be able to sign players on a permanent basis this summer.

“We’re not reliant on getting in money for Djed Spence,” he said. “Although obviously it would help. We’re certainly not in a position where we’re having to wait to see what happens with Djed before we can get other things done.

“I spoke to the chairman, and Steve is ambitious and excited about the future. The good thing about Steve is that he knows the club have to do their absolute maximum to support a push to be in and around the top of the division. That means getting the right players in, although it also has to be at the right value too. We’ll walk away from deals if they’re not right for us.”