Neil Warnock explains Nathaniel Mendez-Laing's absence and quizzed on why Ashley Fletcher and Yannick Bolasie started on the bench at Barnsley

Neil Warnock says Nathaniel Mendez-Laing missed Middlesbrough’s game at Barnsley due to a thigh injury – meaning the Boro boss was only able to name six out of a possible nine substitutes.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 12:00 pm

The Teessiders were also without the injured Anfernee Dijksteel, Dael Fry, Marcus Tavernier and Sam Morsy at Oakwell, while teenage striker Josh Coburn was involved in an FA Youth Cup game against Ipswich – which finished 1-0 to the Tractor Boys.

When asked about Mendez-Laing after the game, Warnock said: “He’s hurt his thigh and we didn’t want young Josh in a game like this.

“Josh will be involved for the last five games, he’s really trained hard so it’ll be good to see him to see what he can do.”

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Middlesbrough winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
Middlesbrough winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.

Coburn will be joined in the squad for next weekend’s game against QPR by midfielders Connor Malley, 21, and 18-year-old Hayden Hackney.

“I’m not sure he’ll start but I think you saw today we are a bit short,” added Warnock when talking about Coburn.

“He was playing in the youth cup but he’ll be with us next week with the two midfield lads.”

Five out of Boro’s six substitutes at Barnsley will be out of contract at the end of this season, including goalkeeper Jordan Archer, Marvin Johnson, Yannick Bolasie, Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher.

The five outfield players came on in the closing stages, yet Warnock says their omission from the starting XI was tactical.

“If I’d have had nine fit lads I’d have had nine subs but we didn’t have nine,” replied Warnock when asked about the players he left out of the side.

“The lads in training have done well, Chuba (Akpom) has done well this week in training, Duncan (Watmore) I thought did well last week.

“I hadn’t got a problem, I thought Kabs (Neeskens Kebano) did alright as well today but once the first goal went in I thought we might as well use the subs up and give them a bit of time.

“I don’t know what we’d have done if we’d have lost a centre-half or a midfield player, we did think about it but Blacky (assistant Kevin Blackwell) ran out of steam when he was warming up.”

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