Tony Pulis opens up on Martin Braithwaite but says Middlesbrough striker must knuckle down

Martin Braithwaite playing for Middlesbrough.
Martin Braithwaite playing for Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough striker Martin Braithwaite remains a key member of Tony Pulis' first-team squad but will have to knuckle down to win back his place.

The Danish international was left on the bench during Boro's goalless draw at Leeds on Friday night, after asking to leave the club earlier in the week.

Spanish sides Girona and Leganes were both reportedly interested in the forward, but a move didn't materialise before yesterday's deadline.

Pulis, whose side remain unbeaten this campaign, has no issues with the player, who has started the season brilliantly, scoring three goals in five Championship starts.

But, Braithwaite, who could be called-up for Denmark's UEFA Nations League matches next week, will need to prove he is mentally ready before returning to the side.

"Martin will be fine, the situation is, the same every window, you get players who get the smoke blown in their ears," said Pulis following the game at Elland Road.

"They get put off, they know about the move before us because of agents and that makes it difficult. The game has changed."

“The clubs and manager are happy once the window has closed. He will be fantastic for us. He needed to come out of it and he will go away now with Denmark and fingers crossed he will knuckle down."

Friday was a mixed day for Pulis, who was clearly proud of the effort levels and commitment his side showed against the league leaders.

Boro also signed centre-back Danny Batth on a season-long loan and midfielder George Saville from Millwall, with a view to a permanent deal in January.

But, Pulis was also hoping to bolster his attacking ranks, and was left disappointed as moves for Aston Villa's Albert Adomah and Jason Puncheon stalled.

“Danny (Batth) was a last minute one, we missed out on two players we were desperate to get," added Pulis.

"They were both forwards with pace, we needed that. This morning I thought we would have them, even by 4 o'clock I did. That’s disappointing."

“We are still missing those players, I would have liked that."

Boro could have benefited from having an extra attacking option against Leeds.

Pulis' side were assured at the back in what, for the most part, looked like a 5-4-1 formation, but they lacked a punch in the final third from open play.

"Defensively we were very good but we have better players in possession than we showed, we had the best chances. We could have a penalty too, Britt rolled him and he was pulled down," said Pulis.

“It was a good British game of football, this is a great club, with great support. We have played West Brom and Leeds now and got four points, so we have to be pleased."