Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has praised midfielder James Lea Siliki for the progress he has made with the club over the past week.
Siliki was one of a number of players to join Middlesbrough from abroad during the summer transfer window, as he signed on a season long loan from French side Rennes.
Since then however, the midfielder has struggled to make an impact at The Riverside, something not helped by an apparent lack of fitness, starting just twice in the league for Warnock’s side.
But while it seems Siliki still has some way to go before he reaches full fitness, it appears Warnock is at least now encouraged by the progress he is seeing from the 25-year-old.
Providing an update on Siliki, the Middlesbrough boss was quoted by The Teesside Gazette as saying: “It’s been his best week this week. He hasn’t been up to scratch lately, but this week he’s had a really good week. All the coaches have mentioned that.
“So hopefully something has clicked and he realises what he’s got to do to push into that team. I think with fitness, we have a really good pre-season and that gets you to Christmas.
“Then you have to do the blank weeks and put a lot of training in. But then I think, by Christmas you can’t really get any fitter. It’s just topping up really.
“So when you’ve not been able to do the strengthening exercises we do when we have the two weeks off for internationals, James can’t get any fitter because he isn’t here.
“You then can’t overdo him when he gets back because he wouldn’t be available for the game then. It’s catch 22 really. It’s one of those things where you have to just carry on and see where it goes.”
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Middlesbrough currently seventh in the Championship table, only outside the play-offs on goal difference, ahead of Birmingham City’s visit to The Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
This does seem to be a rather promising update for those of a Middlesbrough persuasion.
Given Siliki will have arrived at ‘Boro with a fair amount of expectation, having come from a top-flight club, it seems he has rather underwhelmed with his performances for the club so far.
However, these latest comments from Warnock certainly seem to indicate that Siliki is now starting to move in the right direction for ‘Boro, and the fact this is being pointed out could be a confidence boost for the midfielder.
With that in mind, you feel that it is key now for ‘Boro to work as hard as they can to get him up to fitness, to ensure that Siliki has the chance to reach his full potential at The Riverside.