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Middlesbrough boss issues worrying fitness update on first-team striker

Middlesbrough striker Duncan Watmore has a recurring issue that ‘requires him to be pulled out of training’, manager Chris Wilder told The Northern Echo.

Middlesbrough opened their Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw against West Brom on Saturday evening, and Wilder opted for Chuba Akpom and Watmore to lead the line. However, he swapped out both players in the second half for Josh Coburn and new signing Marcus Forss.

Watmore missed a guilt-edged chance to make the score 2-0 before making way for new signing Forss.

However, speaking to The Northern Echo regarding his decision to withdraw both Akpom and Watmore, Wilder elaborated on the latter’s fitness, saying:

“Same as Duncan, after not completing much of pre-season. He [Akpom] missed most of the games and Duncan was the same because he has a slight issue at times that requires him to be pulled out of training.

“We’ll always know with Duncan that that’s there and that’s how it is. He hasn’t completed 90 minutes for us in my time, although I do know I often change it around.”

Watmore has in fact completed 90 minutes once during Wilder’s time, but in every other appearance last season he was either introduced as a substitute or subbed off.

There were reports last week that Middlesbrough were willing to listen to offers for the former Sunderland man this summer, but only if they can bring in a replacement. The same report stated that they have already received bids, but they won’t green light a departure just yet.

A worrying update…

The fact Watmore is playing with a persistent injury issue is worrying and puts their stance on selling him into perspective. Wilder would likely want someone who has more of an eye for goal and someone he can rely on playing from minute one to the final whistle.

They currently have Watmore, Akpom, Coburn and Forss at their disposal but they do need to address their lack of goals quickly if they are to stamp their authority on the Championship and push for a place in the top six. Watmore may not be the answer and so given the injury concerns, it could make sense for the Teessiders to part company with the player in the coming weeks.

He suffered with injuries a lot during his time at Sunderland and so it seems Middlesbrough have managed his fitness well during his time at the Riverside to avoid a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

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