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Middlesbrough are surely making the right call with reported decision on 21-year-old’s future: Opinion

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A few months can certainly make a big difference in football, just ask Djed Spence.

Back at the start of the season in August, the right-back found himself something of a figure of frustration at Middlesbrough, continually struggling to find much in terms of form.

Such were his struggles, that then ‘Boro manager Neil Warnock was willing to allow Spence to leave the club on the final day of the summer transfer window, to join fellow Championship side Nottingham Forest on a season-long loan.

Fast forward a few months, and things look rather different indeed. While Warnock is no longer in charge at Middlesbrough, Spence has excelled during his time with Forest.

The 21-year-old has made 14 appearances and scored once for the Midlands club, producing a string of impressive performances that have quickly made him a popular figure at The City Ground.

Sadly for Forest though, that could soon prompt yet another alteration to Spence’s situation, with recent reports now claiming that new ‘Boro manager Chris Wilder is set to trigger the option to recall the right-back in January, and it is easy to see why.

Given the size and ambition of these two clubs, both ‘Boro and Forest will now doubt be targeting a push for the Championship play-offs during the second half of the season, and given Middlesbrough currently sit just one point ahead of Forest in the current standings, there seems little to split them right now.

As a result, it makes little sense for ‘Boro to leave Spence to flourish at a potential top six rival when he could possibly be making a similarly significant impact for them.

Indeed, with something of a defensive injury crisis ongoing at the Riverside at the moment, which includes fitness concerns over right-sided duo Darnell Fisher and Anfernee Dijksteel,it does look as though Spence’s services could be rather useful for ‘Boro, particularly if he maintains the form he has shown for Forest recently.

It could also be argued, that Spence’s contract situation could also mean a recall for the right-back makes sense from a Middlesbrough perspective.

There are currently around 18 months remaining on the 21-year-old’s contract with Middlesbrough as things stand, securing his future at The Riverside until the end of next season.

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Consequentially, next summer’s transfer window could be the club’s last chance to receive a decent fee for Spence, should they wish to do so.

A January recall from Forest would therefore give Wilder the chance to get a look at Spence up close for himself, and decide whether the 21-year-old is someone who can fit in to the system and style of play that he is looking to implement at The Riverside during the second half of this campaign.

Based on that, the recently appointed ‘Boro boss could then make a decision by the summer over whether Spence is someone they should look to keep long term with an extended contract, or sell during that window, while they can still receive funds for the defender that can be reinvested in the club.

It seems therefore, that with Spence’s own fortunes improving considerably in just a matter of games and months, Middlesbrough have the chance to use that to their advantage in a number of ways.

If they don’t do that, questions would surely have to be asked of those calling the shots at the Riverside Stadium.


UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, been writing for Football League World since March 2019. I've previously worked for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Opta, among others.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Middlesbrough are surely making the right call with reported decision on 21-year-old’s future: Opinion

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