Tony Pulis reveals why ex-Leeds United target Rajiv van La Parra hasn't been starting for Middlesbrough

Rajiv van La Parra has started just one game for Middlesbrough since his loan move from Huddersfield in January.
Rajiv van La Parra has started just one game for Middlesbrough since his loan move from Huddersfield in January.

Tony Pulis says Rajiv van La Parra's absence from the Middlesbrough team is down to tactical reasons.

The 27-year-old winger has made just five appearances for Boro since his loan move from Huddersfield Town in January, starting just once in the FA Cup win over Peterborough on January 5.

Van La Parra, who turned down the chance to join Leeds back in January, hasn't even made the substitutes bench in recent weeks, with Boro suffering back-to-back home defeats against Brentford and Preston.

Pulis made it clear he wanted to add pace and power to his squad during the January transfer window to bolster the Teessiders' chances of promotion.

Van La Parra appeared to fit the bill, yet Boro's switch to a back three hasn't helped the Dutchman, with Pulis choosing to operate with wing-backs rather than natural wingers.

“It’s just the way it is,” Pulis told Gazette Live when asked why van La Parra's exclusion.

“I think the way we’ve played with a five, it’s most probably not suited him - playing as a wing-back, playing that way.

“He’s worked hard he’s trained well, he’s done everything we’ve wanted him to but I just don’t think he’s fitted into the pattern and that’s nothing to do with him, that’s just the shape of the team. The team’s more important than any individual.”

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Despite the arrival of van La Parra, Boro are still short of out and out wingers.

Stewart Downing hasn't started a league game since Boxing Day due to his ongoing contract situation, while teenager Marcus Tavernier has made brief cameo appearances from the bench.

Instead Pulis has deployed Jonny Howson and George Saville as wing-backs in recent weeks, although the latter made way for George Friend on Tuesday night.

“It was more if we played the 4-2-3-1 and we haven’t," added Pulis on van La Parra's lack of game time.

“We’ve resorted back to playing a certain way and playing with almost two forwards, one coming in off the side and then the other side we’ve played someone with power like Jonny (Howson), who’s done exceptionally well.

“So, yes, the system hasn’t suited Raj as much as Raj not suiting the system so it’s nothing to do with the kid.”