'He’s got everything in his locker': Neil Warnock clarifies Chuba Akpom comments ahead of Middlesbrough's meeting with Coventry City
Neil Warnock says Chuba Akpom can still be a success at Middlesbrough despite a difficult spell.
The 25-year-old joined Boro in September but has scored just four league goals in 27 appearances for the Teessiders.
Warnock spoke at length about the frontman ahead of Boro’s 1-1 with Cardiff, admitting his recruitment team weren’t able to watch Akpom live due to travel restrictions.
Those comments sparked criticism from fans who questioned the club’s recruitment strategy and transfer approach.
“I think it was taken out of context a bit,” said Warnock when asked about his comments regarding Akpom.
“We just hadn’t seen him live when he was top of the recruitment list. We agreed that he looked the best bet, but we weren’t able to see him live.
“I just meant that we need to watch players live before we sign them really, and we should be able to do that between now and the end of the summer.
“It wasn’t intended to be a slur on Chuba, it was just an issue that we couldn’t see him live before we bought him.”
Warnock also revealed last week that Akpom has recently become a father which has impacted his sleeping pattern.
The striker made an impact off the bench during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff, though, when he assisted Paddy McNair’s equaliser eight minutes from time.
“There’s no reason why he can’t still be a success at Middlesbrough,” added Warnock when discussing Akpom. “It’s down to himself really.”
“He’s got to try and be as lively as he was when he came off the bench on Saturday.
“Obviously, I mentioned last week about his personal life and having a baby and that has affected him, as I think it does a lot of dads. It’s a different environment and everything you’re used to all goes out of the window. You’re not sleeping and things like that and you’ve got to be at the top of your game at this level to get on that team sheet.
“I’m hoping things calm down for him in the next couple of weeks and he can still contribute. He’s got everything in his locker.
“We speak a lot about inconsistencies and that isn’t limited to Chuba that’s right through the squad.
“But the last time he came on before Saturday I thought he was really poor. The inconsistency around the team is what bugs me more than anything.”
With Ashley Fletcher set to miss this week’s away games against Coventry and Swansea, Warnock hopes Akpom and fellow frontman Britt Assombalonga can step up to bolster Boro’s attacking options.
“They are good strikers and I’m hoping they start to come up with the answers because we’ve got to start scoring more goals,” said Warnock when asked about the pair.
“I’m hoping between them they come up with the goals we need.
“It’s always nice to get your strikers scoring and usually when you get one you go on and get two or three.
“That’s what we need at the minute, we need a good run. It’s a difficult week with Coventry, with a good home record, and Swansea who have lost just once in four months at home.
“Two difficult games, but ones we should look forward to.”