Neil Warnock looks set for an incredibly busy summer as he prepares Middlesbrough for next season.
The Teessiders still have an outside chance of securing a spot in the play-offs but with plenty of work to do there’s a feeling that the club would be better served looking ahead to a genuine push next time around.
Middlesbrough have some decisions to make regarding their playing squad with one or two high profile stars set to be out of contract this summer.
One of those is Ashley Fletcher.
The striker has scored four times in 12 appearances in an injury-hit campaign for Middlesbrough, leading to reports that soon-to-be relegated Sheffield United could be interested in making a move for the player.
But what impact could a potential departure have on Neil Warnock’s squad? We take a look.
Losing a player before fulfilling his potential
He may be approaching four years at the Riverside Stadium, but there’s a feeling that the best is yet to come from Ashley Fletcher.
The striker scored 13 goals in all competitions last term, and while this year as seen him score just four, his statistics suggest that this figure would have been significantly more if he had stayed fit.
At 25 years of age Fletcher is still improving and so the prospect of making a significant loss on a player who is not yet the finished article could be a big blow for the club.
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The need for a suitable replacement
If Ashley Fletcher was to move on then it would leave a big hole in the Middlesbrough squad.
Britt Assombalonga also looks set to move on which means that the club would be left with just Chuba Akpom as a senior option in attack.
Middlesbrough have made it clear that they’re looking for new strikers this summer but losing a player like Fletcher will put real pressure on the recruitment team to make sure that they bring in at least one player who is an improvement on the former Manchester United youngster.
Strengthening a rival
While Middlesbrough will be powerless in this situation it would be a big blow to lose a player to a divisional rival.
Sheffield United are all-but certain to be playing in the Championship next term and that means that the Blades will be among the challengers to secure promotion back to the Premier League next time around.
Given the plans that are being put in place by Neil Warnock it seems that this is where Middlesbrough are hoping to be as well, and so the thought of losing Fletcher to a club who will be rivaling the Teessiders next term is enough to make you question whether losing the player is a good idea.