Middlesbrough boss reveals reasons why midfielder is free to leave this month
Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder has revealed to The Northern Echo why the club have decided that James Lea Siliki is free to leave this month.
Middlesbrough only signed Siliki in the summer on a season-long loan from Rennes in France. However, he has only made 10 appearances all season, starting just twice.
Since Chris Wilder took over from Neil Warnock, the Cameroon international has yet to play a minute and he has now been told to find another club.
Siliki is one of four players who have been told to look elsewhere this month. Uche Ikpeazu, Marcus Browne and Onel Hernandez are also free to leave, with the latter having already joined Birmingham City.
Speaking to The Northern Echo, the Boro boss revealed his reasoning behind allowing Siliki to depart.
“He’s struggled to get into our side because I think the three midfield players have been really good,” said Wilder.
“He had an injury and had Covid that kept him out of the group as well.
“The group’s gone well, and the three midfield players have been good, and Riley [McGree], for a long-term purchase, it’s always been on our radar to bring him in.”
The go-to midfield three since Wilder took the reigns has been Matt Crooks, Marcus Tavernier, and Jonny Howson. The trio have started all but one game together under the new manager.
Siliki’s call up to Cameroon’s Africa Cup of Nations squad this month has also proved to be a reason behind allowing him to leave.
“Sometimes, you look at it and, without being too controversial, you lose a player for potentially a month at a really important part of the season,” said Wilder.
“I think there are quite a lot of factors that have stopped him playing and progressing in the team. I’ve got to make decisions. That’s part and parcel of my job.
“I’ve got to make these decisions and I’ve got to have balance and cover. It’s no good me having Tav or Riley who play there and carrying James when that money can be used elsewhere and manoeuvred to strengthen another part of the pitch.”
With Ikpeazu, Browne, Hernandez and Siliki expected to leave before the end of the month, it is unknown whether Boro will look to sign anymore players this window.
So far they have brought in four new faces with McGree and Caolan Boyd-Munce arriving on permanent deals from Charlotte FC and Birmingham, and Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun and Brighton and Hove Albion’s Aaron Connolly signing on loan for the remainder of the campaign.