Middlesbrough v Millwall – Striker shortage holding back Boro’s chances

A LITTLE over two years on since Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson spoke about building a squad to “smash the league”, the present-day reality could not be more stark for the Teessiders.

Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga and manager Jonathan Woodgate. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA

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Back in the summer of 2017, Boro embarked on a £40m-plus spending spree that sent shockwaves across the Championship with their squad being the envy of the division, but those days are now a distant apparition.

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Following two failures to clinch promotion, financial cloth is being significantly cut, with Boro very much in transition mode under a rookie head coach in Jonathan Woodgate.

A midweek win over Wigan was greeted with understandable relief by Woodgate, after recording the first win of his tenure.

But the tools at his disposal indicate that even a top-six push – let alone a promotion tilt – look somewhat unlikely, with the fact that he has just three bonafide striking options underlining that reality in red ink.

On the current scenario for Boro, whose inability to add to their striking ranks in the summer window may well define their season, Woodgate said: “The Championship is relentless, if we do pick up a couple more injuries, fatigue, we will be really short. That is not ideal.

“If you look at Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher, I cannot keep playing them 90-90-90, they will run out of gas.

“Adam Clayton’s position as well. I cannot keep expecting him to go the same, every game.

“When you get to November, December and January time, when you need to call on the squad. It does not keep me awake at night, but it is not ideal.

“I have to deal with it and I will concentrate on what I have got.

“We have to get on with it, we would have liked a couple more in.

“But I have full confidence in the squad I have got.”