Ashley Fletcher reveals thoughts on lone striker role, Sunderland spell and crucial home games

Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher admits it hasn’t been easy playing as a lone striker in recent weeks and hopes partner Britt Assombalonga will be fit to face Stoke this evening.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 11:50 am

Assombalonga, Boro’s top scorer with six goals this season, has missed his side’s last two games with an ankle injury but could return to face the Potters.

As a result, the Teessiders have altered their shape in recent weeks, with Fletcher leading the line on his own away at Nottingham Forest and Swansea.

“It’s tough, I can’t lie,” Fletcher told the Mail when asked about his role. “The Forest game I was playing up there against Michael Dawson who’s played in the Premier League and is very well respected.

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Striker Ashley Fletcher has started Middlesbrough's last seven league games.
Striker Ashley Fletcher has started Middlesbrough's last seven league games.

“We got a point and I thought I did a good job holding the ball up and laying people off.

“In the Swansea game I obviously set the goal up so it’s somewhere I can play. I don’t mind playing there, obviously it’s tough but hopefully Britt can be back on Friday so we can link-up again.”

Fletcher has recently spoke about his difficult loan spell at Sunderland in 2017 and how it helped him “become a man.”

The 24-year-old was also played up front on his own at the Stadium of Light and believes the experience has helped him develop.

“I take different pieces from different places and obviously I played up there for Sunderland on my own,” Fletcher adds.

“It was tough but now I know what it’s like and that can help me as it has done the last two games.”

Still, Assombalonga’s return can’t come soon enough ahead of back-to-back home games against Stoke and Huddersfield.

When asked if he expects Assombalonga to return, Fletcher said: “I hope so for my sake, but if not I’ll carry on doing what I can and hopefully can add a few more goals as well.

“The Stoke game is a six-pointer, if we win the game against Stoke we go into the Huddersfield game full of confidence.”

“We’re really looking forward to it, it’s a good chance in front of our fans to put it right and hopefully Christmas will be a good period for us.”