Neil Warnock's confusing response when explaining Chuba Akpon's absence at Luton

Neil Warnock decided not to include Chuba Akpom in Middlesbrough’s matchday squad against Luton – even though the forward was seemingly available for selection.

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 7:30 am

Boro only named seven out of a possible nine substitutes at Kenilworth Road, as the Teessiders once again travelled with an inexperienced bench, including academy graduates Djed Spence, Hayden Hackney, William Kokolo, Connor Malley, Jack Robinson and Josh Coburn.

Warnock made one change to his starting XI from the Boro side which beat Sheffield Wednesday the previous weekend, with Hayden Coulson replacing Akpom.

When asked about the striker’s absence, Warnock said he wanted to give 18-year-old Coburn, who scored against Wednesday, another run out from the bench.

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Middlesbrough striker Chuba Akpom.

Coburn replaced Yannick Bolasie in the 83rd minute.

"I decided to go with the kids,” replied Warnock when asked about Akpom’s omission.

"I was only going to put one striker on and it would be Josh so I didn't want to waste Chuba's time.

"If Chuba came down and sat on that bench and didn't get on... I think he'll be quite pleased.”

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Akpom’s exclusion from the squad is particularly confusing given Boro’s lack of forward options, following the departures of Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher.

Warnock told the Mail earlier in the week he wanted to bring in three new strikers during the summer, which would presumably bump Akpom down the pecking order.

The 25-year-old has struggled since his move to Teesside last year, scoring just five goals in 37 Championship appearances.

You’d have thought Akpom would be keen to play in Boro’s final few games as he looks to prove himself and regain some confidence.

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