Championship side Middlesbrough can recall Nottingham Forest loanee Djed Spence during the January transfer window, according to The Athletic.
The 21-year-old wing-back fell out of favour at the Riverside Stadium under Neil Warnock in the summer, despite being linked with multiple Premier League clubs during the previous window including Everton, Norwich City and West Ham United.
Second-tier rivals Nottingham Forest took advantage of his availability by securing his services on a season-long loan agreement on deadline day in the summer, remaining as the East Midlands outfit’s first-choice right-back throughout his time at the City Ground so far despite the number of other options manager Steve Cooper has in that position.
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In fairness, Jodi Osei-Tutu’s injury and Mohamed Drager’s time to adapt to England has made this an easier task to start, but he’s been impressive nonetheless and has played a huge part in Forest’s revival under Cooper.
Operating as a wing-back under the Welshman, he and fellow loanee Max Lowe have been exceptional as their current side’s wide threats going forward, becoming one of the Reds’ best players of 2021/22 thus far and looking as though he will only get better considering his age and the fact Forest’s boss arrived at the club less than two months ago.
But his time at the club could come to an end as soon as January, with Chris Wilder arriving as parent club Middlesbrough as the Teesside outfit’s new boss and having the ability to recall the 21-year-old in January, according to The Athletic.
This was a clause that was negotiated when the two sides came to an agreement on this deal at the end of August.
Middlesbrough have already operated with a back five under Neil Warnock this season, mainly due to an injury crisis.
But Wilder is likely to come in and play with five at the back regardless, after enjoying major success with this formation at former club Sheffield United, including in the Premier League when they finished ninth during the 2019/20 campaign.
Boro certainly have the capability to play in this system for the long term, with Marc Bola and Djed Spence at wing-back and Sol Bamba, Grant Hall and Dael Fry as the second-tier side’s three centre-backs.
From there, the former Blades boss could play two up top like he did at Bramall Lane, with Andraz Sporar, Uche Ikpeazu and Duncan Watmore all likely to be competing for a spot in that position.
This would leave three central midfielders, with Matt Crooks and Jonny Howson operating behind Martin Payero, with the latter likely to have the license to get forward and make a real impact going forward along with his wing-backs.
It would be hard to see Wilder not recalling Spence because of his likely system, although it will be a huge blow for Forest who have richly benefitted from his services so far.
Thankfully, Osei-Tutu might be back before January and Drager should be settled in by then, so they don’t have a shortage of options to come in on the right-hand side.