Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis explains why he left out Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher at Swansea after sixth straight defeat
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis felt he had to change his forward line for Saturday's trip to Swansea, following a tough run of games in the Championship.
Boro lost 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium, their sixth straight league defeat, as a Matt Grimes penalty was followed by goals from Wayne Routledge and Connor Roberts.
George Saville pulled one back for the visitors nine minutes from time, yet the goal proved a mere consolation for the Teessiders.
Pulis left out strikers Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher as the Boro boss made three changes following Tuesday's defeat to Bristol City - with Jordan Hugill chosen to lead the line on his own.
Ultimately it backfired though, as Boro found themselves 2-0 down after 38 minutes.
"Britt and Fletch have put two or three really tough stints in," said Pulis, when asked about his team selection.
"We've done this at West Brom and Birmingham, if you get it right you get it right, if you don't, you don't.
"We've got another three game week, we've got to get them prepared right and proper. Hugill had trained really well and looked bright. A manager makes decisions."
Boro are now four points off the play-off places with six games to go and haven't won since February 23.
When asked if he still believes his side can finish in the top six, Pulis replied: "I hope so.
"It's not me believing, it's the players. You've got to get the players believing and I think they believe they can.
"They were as disappointed as anybody else with the way they played in the first half.
"They've got to pick themselves up. We've had a good chat about it, I thought the way we played, it wasn't until five minutes into the second half we really got hold of the game the way we wanted.
"Even then Swansea called us problems on the break."