Neil Warnock's message to Uche Ikpeazu as striker hopes for Middlesbrough recall against Sheffield United
Neil Warnock has challenged Middlesbrough striker Uche Ikpeazu to take his opportunities when they come.
The 28-year-old joined Boro from Wycombe in the summer and made a promising start to the campaign, scoring twice in his first three league games for the Teessiders.
Yet Ikpeazu has started the side's last three matches on the bench, with Andraz Sporar taking his place up front.
Warnock has said the forward pair could play together in certain games, even though Boro have predominantly started matches with one striker this season.
When asked by the Mail what Ikpeazu must do to get back in the team, Warnock replied: “His training yesterday was as good as I’ve seen from him.
“He’s got to show what he can do when he gets the opportunity.
“I’m not a big stats person but when he came on for ten minutes recently he never made one sprint in that time.
“Now, he might not have been able to, but I don’t think that. I think you get up to a sprint even if you’re closing down.
“So it disappointed me that. But he’s worked hard and he’s shown he’s desperate to get back in the team.”
Despite Boro’s disappointing form, which has seen them suffer back-to-back defeats and drop to 18th in the table, Warnock and his assistant Kevin Blackwell believe there is a positive atmosphere in the dressing room.
“Me and Kev were just talking about that yesterday. To be fair, the dressing room is fantastic,” Warnock added.
“I had a good chat with Jonny (Howson) and Paddy (McNair) yesterday and they said it’s never been better. You can tell that as well.
“And that’s when you know you’ve got a chance when your dressing room is so good.
“There is no one trying to cause problems. We’re together and we know we’ve got to sort this out together, and if we can do that we’ll have a great time because the dressing room is very, very good.”
Boro will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they face Warnock’s former side Sheffield United at the Riverside.