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16 September 2021

Neil Warnock ponders first Boro start for Martin Payero against Blackpool

16 September 2021

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock could hand summer signing Martin Payero a first Sky Bet Championship start of the season against Blackpool on Saturday.

The Argentinian midfielder is standing by after shaking off his own injury problems following James Lea-Siliki’s premature exit from Wednesday night’s 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest with a thigh problem, although club medics are confident the damage is not too serious.

Like Rennes loanee Lea-Siliki, striker Andraz Sporar was handed a first start at the City Ground despite Boro having yet to fully assess their fitness levels, and he will be monitored for any reaction after scoring at Forest.

Midfielder Paddy McNair (hamstring) is closing in on a return while frontman Sammy Ameobi (knee) works his way back to fitness and Marc Bola continues to be monitored.

Blackpool striker Gary Madine will hope for further involvement on Teesside after making his first appearance of the season in Tuesday evening’s 3-0 home defeat by Huddersfield.

Madine played the final 17 minutes as a substitute after undergoing groin surgery during the summer and, while his return will be managed, he is now back in harness.

Head coach Neil Critchley made two changes in midweek after the 1-0 win over promotion favourites Fulham as midfielder Kenny Dougall and striker Shayne Lavery replaced Kevin Stewart and Keshi Anderson, but he was happy enough with his side’s display in a game he felt they were unfortunate to lose so heavily.

Callum Connolly was an unused substitute after returning to the fold, with Oliver Casey and Reece James hoping to follow suit and Matty Virtue, Demetri Mitchell, Grant Ward, Owen Dale and CJ Hamilton working their way back.

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