Neil Warnock explains Britt Assombalonga and Marcus Tavernier omissions as Middlesbrough prepare for Stoke City test

Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga missed the weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Swansea because of illness.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 6:00 am

Boro only named seven substitutes at the Liberty Stadium as Marcus Tavernier also missed out due to an ankle issue.

In Assombalonga’s absence, manager Neil Warnock started with Yannick Bolasie and Duncan Watmore up front, yet the latter was replaced by Chuba Akpom at half-time.

When asked about Assombalonga after the match, Warnock said: "Britt wasn't up to scratch on Friday so I said we'll go with what we've got. A bit like Duncan, just not quite there.

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Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga.
Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga.

"That's why I thought I'd be careful with Duncan. I asked the doc to have a good look at him."

"He just wasn't at the races, he didn't look healthy. I just thought we'd change it at half-time and on the hour."

Defender Anfernee Dijksteel was also forced off in the first half and replaced by Djed Spence in the right wing-back role.

Despite coming off the bench, Spence was later withdrawn to make way for Nathanial Mendez-Laing as Boro went in search of an equaliser in the second half.

"I told Djed I might have to bring him off even though he was sub," Warnock later explained. "I had to get Mendez on, it wasn't anything to do with Djed."

On Tavernier, who was forced off during Boro’s 2-1 win over Coventry, Warnock added: "I could have played Tav today but he just felt a bit sore so I said it's not worth it."

The Teessiders will now prepare for this weekend’s home game against Stoke.

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