Five Middlesbrough players with a point to prove before the end of the season as Neil Warnock considers options
Middlesbrough’s play-off hopes suffered another blow as they were beaten 2-1 at Swansea in controversial circumstances – yet there’s still plenty to be resolved between now and the end of the season.
Boro are seven points off the play-off places with 11 games to go, with Warnock admitting they are outsiders to finish in the top six.
But as plans are put in place for next season, the Boro boss has reiterated that some members of his squad will be playing for their futures in the next few months.
We take a closer look at those who have a point to prove.
We’ve seen flashes of what the forward is capable of this season, the away performances at Birmingham and Nottingham Forest spring to mind, yet five goals in 28 league appearances represents a disappointing campaign.
It was damning that Assombalonga was replaced as captain by Jonny Howson last month, with the striker’s contract set to expire this summer.
With 11 games to go, it seems unlikely Assombalonga will be offered a new deal at Boro. Other clubs will undoubtedly be monitoring the situation and the striker will hope for an opportunity to prove himself.
After signing a short-term contract at Boro in January, the former Cardiff winger has made five appearances, which includes only one start, for the Teessiders.
When the 28-year-old arrived at the Riverside, he hadn’t played a competitive fixture for six months and understandably needed time to get up to speed.
Mendez-Laing will be hoping to prove he deserves a contract extension between now and the end of the campaign.
If he can rediscover the form he produced at Cardiff, Warnock knows he’ll have a real asset on his hands.
The Fulham loanee has started every league game for Boro in goal this season but will see his contract at Craven Cottage expire this summer.
Bettinelli’s performances for Boro haven’t been completely convincing, and while he’s a vocal presence who can organise his defence, there have also been some obvious errors.
It appears the 28-year-old will be looking for a new club in the summer while Warnock will have to consider his options in the goalkeeping department.
A player who has proved popular with Boro supporters but was unfortunate to pick up a hamstring injury last month.
For that reason, we’re still yet to see the best of Bolasie, who was frozen out at his former club Everton and hadn’t played a competitive match for nearly a year when he joined Boro in January.
Bolasie is on loan from Everton but will see his Toffees contract expire at the end of the season.
He would have to take a wage cut to join Boro permanently but, after a frustrating spell on the sidelines, the 31-year-old will just be keen to demonstrate his ability.
Another player who will be out of contract at the end of the season.
Fletcher has been offered a new deal at Boro but elected to wait until the end of the campaign to make a decision.
After a season which has been blighted by injury, the striker will hope he can return to the starting XI and prove his fitness during the run-in.