Assombalonga and Fletcher won't play again for Middlesbrough: Warnock

MIDDLESBROUGH manager Neil Warnock has confirmed that Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher's time at the club is now over - and both will not be involved with the club for the rest of the season ahead of leaving when their deals expire.

Neil Warnock.
Neil Warnock.

The forward duo, expensive arrivals when signed by Garry Monk in the summer of 2017 at a combined cost of £22m from Nottingham Forest and West Ham respectively, have been allowed dispensation to train on their own away from the club.

Warnock said that he believes both have lined up impending moves in the close season.

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Speaking after his side's 2-1 win at Rotherham United, he said: "They won't be involved again now. I just felt it was the right time now. It is difficult for players as well. It is not their fault all together.

"Both of them have probably got another club, so I am told, so I did not think there was any point. We have agreed to let them train on their own. It is only two weeks and they are not going to get any fitter now."

Meanwhile, Warnock backed Darren Bond's controversial decision to dismiss Matt Crooks following an aerial challenge with Grant Hall in the 19th minute of an eventful first half at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Crooks was sent off for a perceived elbow as he rose and caught Hall in an aerial duel.

It looked an accidental collision of heads with no malice, although Warnock confirmed afterwards that Hall had several stitches inserted in a wound above his eye with the defender forced to come off with Connor Malley handed a debut from the bench for Boro.

Warnock said: "I thought it was a red card. You can see it at different angles, but the referee only has one look. But I thought straightaway it was a red and I also shouted: 'He is not going to stay on' straightaway because it was a bad one. I thought he endangered the player with the challenge and that is a red card.

"He was not concussed, so that was good. But his eye got a bit of blood and was why he stayed down. It was blurred with the blood in the eye. The doctor is stitching him and hopefully he is alright."

Boro cashed in with George Saville's fine 33rd-minute leveller cancelling out Angus MacDonald's early opener and Chuba Akpom scoring a second half winner for the Teessiders, who hit the bar twice through Jonny Howson with Yannick Bolaise also seeing an effort strike the woodwork.

Warnock, whose side claimed a first win in six and play another relegation-threatened side in Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, said: "I am happy we have got the points, but disappointed as it is Rotherham, if I am honest, as I want to see them stay up.

"So I said to the lads that I want us to try twice as hard on Saturday, being a Unitedite.

"Chuba was not playing this morning. Hayden Coulson was playing, but in the hotel, he started shivering a little bit and he has had a Covid test and it was negative. But we decided not to risk him and send him home and we asked him to come in.

"I was disappointed with the goal we conceded, but I did not think it affected us and we carried on playing and got our rewards. Poor old Jonny Howson - I think he was doing the 'crossbar challenge.'"

Boro will have a big say on the relegation battle as they also host Wycombe on the final day of the season, following on from tonight's clash with the Millers and Saturday's home appointment with the Owls.