It has been an up and down start for Uche Ikpeazu at Middlesbrough with the former Wycombe Wanderers man still looking for a regular spot in the starting XI at the Riverside.
Ikpeazu sustained a niggling injury at the worst time and allowed Andraz Sporar to replace him up front for Boro and the Sporting Lisbon loanee grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
Neil Warnock is clearly a fan of Ikpeazu and values him as a member of the squad but he has a mission to break back into the side with the wealth of attacking talent at the 72-year-old’s disposal.
How’s it gone so far?
Two goals and an assist in the first three league games of the season saw Ikpeazu an immediate hit with the Boro fan base but he has not registered a goal involvement since, and his last Championship start was in early September.
The 26-year-old has played some part in nine of the 11 league outings, only being left on the bench once in an away defeat to Reading when Duncan Watmore was preferred to replace Andraz Sporar.
What issues does he face?
The system is one stumbling block and then the aforementioned Sporar.
With Warnock typically opting for one central striker it is difficult for Ikpeazu to force his way back in due to the limited opportunities he is receiving.
The 26-year-old looked to be establishing a great relationship with attacking midfielder Matt Crooks and if Boro continue to be as uninspiring in front of goal then Warnock should reconsider Ikpeazu.
Over the international break Ikpeazu needs to prove his commitment and desire to improve in order to force his way back into the starting XI and show the qualities than Sporar does not possess.
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Sporar has just one goal in his six league outings but there may be some pressure from board level or from his parent club for the Slovenian to be playing regularly.
Boro’s defeat to newly promoted Hull City will give Warnock plenty to ponder over the next two weeks and increases the scrutiny over the 72-year-old’s place in the dugout for when they return to Championship action.
Ikpeazu’s performances on the training ground can thrust the bulky striker back into Warnock’s reckoning.