Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has this challenge for ex-Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore
Neil Warnock has challenged Duncan Watmore to prove he merits a spot in his starting XI after the Middlesbrough boss admitted to being ‘disappointed’ by the former Sunderland man in training of late.
Watmore came on as a substitute during the closing stages in the midweek win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground and has started just two of Boro’s seven league fixtures so far this season.
The 27-year-old made a blistering start to life at the Riverside last year scoring five goals in his first eight appearances under Warnock on his way to scooping the December Player of the Month award.
After an injury ravaged spell at the Stadium of Light, Watmore looked to have rekindled the kind of form that earned him such a reputation at England youth level but has struggled to continue that form into the new season.
With new signings Uche Ikpeazu and Andraz Sporar both impressing in their early Middlesbrough careers the pressure is now on Watmore to prove he still has a spot in Warnock’s plans.
“I was disappointed in Duncan in the last couple of weeks in training and it’s not a lack of effort,” said Warnock.
“He just didn’t do enough to warrant getting into the team. I have noticed a difference in him in the last few days.
“Listen, we all have problems we don’t know about at home, whether it’s kids, next door neighbours or dogs barking.
“We’ve all got problems to deal with and that’s what the players have to deal with to make sure every day in training they are on the top of their game.
“He’s just got to keep doing it in the training sessions really.”
With Watmore’s place in the side uncertain and the on-loan Sporar impressing in his full debut in midweek Warnock was asked whether or not there is scope to start both the Slovenian and fellow summer arrival Ikpeazu ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Blackpool.
“I think in certain systems you can,” he admitted.
“It’s just working out what you are going to do and each game is going to be different really.
“[But] that has cropped up in my mind and everybody else’s really.”