Middlesbrough FC news: Robbie Keane sends strong message to Leeds United striker plus Boro's Britt Assombalonga dilemma
Middlesbrough’s assistant manager Robbie Keane has sent a strong message to former Boro striker Patrick Bamford - regarding the frontman’s international future.
Keane, who won 146 caps for the Republic of Ireland as a player, joined Boro’s new-look coaching team last week, following the appointment of Jonathan Woodgate.
The former Tottenham striker will also stay on as Mick McCarthy’s assistant for the Ireland national team, a role he has occupied since retiring from the game last year.
In that time, Bamford, who represented England Under-21s under Garath Southgate, has been strongly linked with a switch back to Ireland, after playing for the Green Army’s under-18 side earlier in his career.
Yet Keane is not willing to wait for a decision and has demanded the forward to make up his mind.
“You’re representing your country and if you want to play for Ireland, you come play for us,” Keane told the Irish Sun. “We’re not going to go and chase you.
“I’ll tell you with Patrick Bamford, he should be chasing us. He should want to come here. If he doesn’t want to, no problem.
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“We shouldn’t be chasing people, by the way. That’s what f***ing winds me up. They should want to play for us. If they don’t, then no problem.”
Meanwhile, Boro striker Britt Assombalonga has been included in DR Congo's 23-man squad for this year’s African Cup of Nations – which is set to start later this week.
Congo have been drawn in a group with hosts Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and will play three group games between Saturday June 22 and Sunday June 30.
The top two teams from each group, plus the four best third placed teams, will progress to the knockout stages, which will run from July 5 to the final on July 19.
It means Assombalonga, who scored 14 Championship goals last season, looks set to miss a large part of Boro’s pre-season schedule, which gets underway with a game in Austria against Grazer AK on July 5.
The new Championship season is set to start on the weekend commencing Saturday August 3.