NEIL WARNOCK has urged James Lea-Siliki not to head off on international duty with Cameroon at the start of next month – but the Middlesbrough midfielder is set to ignore his manager’s wishes.
Lea-Siliki joined Boro on a season-long loan from Rennes on transfer deadline-day at the end of last month, with Warnock clearly harbouring concerns over his fitness levels.
The 25-year-old made his Boro debut from the substitutes’ bench in the 2-0 defeat to Coventry, and having started against Nottingham Forest and Blackpool, found himself back on the bench for Saturday’s defeat at Reading.
He is likely to remain amongst the replacements when Sheffield United visit the Riverside tomorrow, with Warnock having been hoping to use the forthcoming international break to build up the midfielder’s fitness.
Instead, however, Lea-Siliki is set to travel to Africa, with Cameroon taking on Mozambique in a home-and-away double-header as part of their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Warnock said: “I said to James yesterday, ‘If I’m honest, I don’t think you should go away in the international break really because you’re nowhere near fit enough. Yet you’re going to go away for two weeks and probably play five minutes in one game, ten minutes in another, and you’ll be walking around for two weeks hardly doing any training, and you’ll be back to square one’.
“He says he can’t do that and that he’s got to go with the international team. Unfortunately, in that situation, there’s very little you can do as a manager.”