This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Ashley Fletcher faces an uncertain future with Middlesbrough with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.
Neil Warnock has suggested that the striker’s future will not be resolved until the end of the campaign when the club know what the future holds for them.
But with Britt Assombalonga out of contract as well it means that Middlesbrough will be left with just one senior striker in the shape of Chuba Akpom.
Fletcher was looking good this season with four goals to his name before injuries took their hold, but should the Teessiders be pulling out all of the stops to try and keep him at the club?
Here’s what the team at FLW had to say…
Middlesbrough should be doing as much as possible to secure the future of Fletcher, he is someone that could make a major difference for them next season if he is able to avoid injury issues. He offers a powerful presence upfront and someone that can both create and score goals and that is something that has been lacked when he has been out of action this term.
Warnock clearly wants to try and keep hold of him and if Boro are going to challenge then they need to trust him and offer him the backing to keep and bring players he wants. The cost of bringing in a replacement for Fletcher will far outweigh any costs that it would take to get him to sign a new contract and commit his future to the club.
It is likely that Boro will be spending time in the summer trying to bring in another forward or two to get them more goals in the final third, so adding in a replacement for Fletcher as well would make it a very difficult task. They are best keeping hold of him and trying to find someone for him to combine with in the attacking third.
Fletcher should also feel that Middlesbrough is the ideal place for him at the moment, given that he has not always been able to show his best form at other clubs he has been at. For both parties, it seems like a deal that should get sorted out.
I do think Middlesbrough should be looking at keeping Fletcher at the club for next season if they can.
Although injuries have hampered him considerably this season, Fletcher showed during the previous campaign that he has the ability to be a more than useful asset at The Riverside Stadium.
As a result, it would make sense for them to look to secure his future with the club, which would also prevent the risk of them losing a decent player for nothing this summer.
Indeed, with Britt Assombalonga’s own future with ‘Boro looking far from certain, you deal feel as though ‘Boro should be looking to keep at least one of those two at the club beyond this season, since they are not going to want to have to replace both of those attackers in the summer, which reduce the funds they have to strengthen other areas of their squad for next season.
Quiz: 16 celebrities that support Middlesbrough – But do they really?
I don’t think they should be pulling out all the stops, no.
There’s a lot to like about Fletcher and given Boro’s lack of forward quality, keeping hold of him looks the right move.
At 25, I still feel as though he could develop into a real quality player for them but he’s not quite there yet.
With that in mind, extending his deal should be on their list of priorities but they should be looking for value – particularly given the current market.