Neil Warnock explains Andraz Sporar substitution after Barnsley win as Middlesbrough boss reacts to Duncan Watmore's miss

Neil Warnock says Andraz Sporar’s withdrawal against Barnsley was due to an issue the striker picked up on international duty – but doesn’t believe the injury is a serious one.

By Joe Nicholson
Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 10:41 pm
Middlesbrough striker Andraz Sporar.
Middlesbrough striker Andraz Sporar.

The Slovenian opened the scoring as Boro recorded a 2-0 win over the Tykes, heading home Paddy McNair’s cross in the 20th minute.

Matt Crooks added a second goal three minutes from time, as Warnock’s side moved up to 10th in the Championship table and three points off a play-off place.

Sporar started alongside Duncan Watmore in attack but was substituted just after the hour mark.

When asked about the striker, Warnock said: “He felt his adductor on international duty and it just tightened up so we thought he better come straight off.

“We said to him and Duncan at half-time, I don’t want you like against Blackpool, his stats in the second half were terrible and he didn’t run about at all and played with a fag in.

“I said to him I don’t want a Blackpool performance, I want everything you’ve got and you come off when you’re cream crackered, and I thought he did.

“I thought him and Watmore did every so well in closing down.”

It was a mixed evening for Watmore who earned praise from his manager but missed an open goal midway through the second half following Martin Payero’s cutback.

“He did slip in fairness,” said Warnock when asked about Watmore’s miss. “I said to him when he slipped he should have gone on his knees and headed it in.

“Listen, he’s worked his socks off tonight and I’ve got nothing but praise for them.

“The main thing is we won the game so that doesn’t make his miss as bad as it would have done.“

Boro are without several first-team players due to injury, including defenders Dael Fry, Grant Hall, Anfernee Dijksteel and Marc Bola.

When asked if any of the aforementioned players could return for Saturday’s trip to Warnock’s former side Cardiff, the Boro boss replied: “No. I thought we might have had Dijksteel back but I can’t see it watching him today.”

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