Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock had previously stated that it was going to be difficult for striker Britt Assombalonga ot be involved between now and the end of the season.

The Middlesbrough record signing is out of contract at the end of the campaign and Warnock claimed he would be giving opportunities to other players in his place.

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Youngster Josh Coburn was preferred to the 28-year-old on the substitutes bench in recent weeks, although Assombalonga did return for their trip to Barnsley at the weekend.

It seemed out of place given Warnock’s previous comments, but his inclusion on the bench was necessary.

According to Joe Nicholson of The Hartlepool Mail, the reason why he returned to the first-team fold at Oakwell is due to the ‘extremely thin’ squad, injuries and ‘players being involved in a FA Youth Cup game’.

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Boro were only able to name six substitutes last Saturday, with the maximum allowed being nine. It certainly highlights the task at hand for Warnock, who will need to rebuild in the summer but keep his players motivated in the club’s next five games with their play-off hopes are all but over.

Ashley Fletcher also made the bench and was also introduced in the second-half. Along with Assombalonga, Fletcher is expected to leave when his contract runs out in two months time.

A number of clubs are said to be interested in the duo with the likes of Rangers and Bristol City keen on the Democratic Republic of Congo international, whereas Sheffield United are reportedly looking to make a move for Fletcher this summer.