Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder has explained his decision to substitute forward Duncan Watmore early in the second half, in an interview with Teesside Live.

Middlesbrough extended their winless run to five games, having not won since 23rd October away at Cardiff.

Since Chris Wilder took the reigns after Neil Warnock’s exit they have performed well, but have gained just one point out of a possible six.

With the game at 1-0 on Tuesday evening, Wilder decided to take off striker Duncan Watmore. Winger Onel Hernandez replaced him and then played an unfamiliar central role.

The substitution didn’t prove beneficial. Although Hernandez did create a couple of chances, the game soon drifted away from them as two chances for Preston ended up in the back of the Boro net, as three points for Boro soon turned to zero.

Wilder has defended the substitution in the interview, explaining there are fitness concerns.

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“He’d not trained since the game [against Millwall] so that was touch and go,” he said.

“He passed a late fitness test on the afternoon. So did Andy [Andraz Sporar].

“He looked as if he was just a little bit off the pace as well, Duncan.”

There is no let up for Wilder and Middlesbrough though as they are back in action four days after last nights’ fixture. They play Huddersfield away from home on Saturday afternoon.

It is likely the club will monitor Watmore throughout the week in training and see if he passes a fitness test to take on the Terriers this weekend.

Boro do have somewhat of an injury crisis at present and with concerns surrounding the fitness of first-choice striker duo Watmore and Sporar, this is not something Wilder will want to have to contemplate as they look to get their first win under the new boss.