The Chalkboard: Latest Assombalonga cameo makes Pulis decision even more confusing

Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga came off of the substitutes’ bench to score twice and help his side to a 3-2 win against fellow promotion contenders West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Saturday, and made manager Tony Pulis’ treatment of him in recent times even more confusing.

On the chalkboard

The 26-year-old was a regular in the starting XI for the Championship outfit at the beginning of the season, but had started none of the Teesside outfit’s previous five league fixtures, playing 77 minutes in total, as per Transfermarkt.

The attacker once again had to settle for a spot on the bench for the trip to the west Midlands at the weekend, but he came on after 65 minutes with his team trailing 2-1, and found they net twice in the final 15 minutes to give his team a vital three points that drew them level with their opponents in the standings.

The brace took Assombalonga’s goal tally for the campaign to nine in 25 Championship games, and considering he now has 54 in 138 matches at this level it is clear to see that he can have a big role play in the promotion race.

Why hasn’t he been starting?

Basically, Pulis has often preferred a formation that only incorporates one striker, and despite having the likes of Assombalonga and Rudy Gestede available, he has often opted to start loanee Jordan Hugill up top.

The 26-year-old has recently hit a purple patch in front of goal with three goals in his previous five outings, although that matched the tally in the 17 Championship fixtures that preceded those ones.

Assombalonga showed just how clinical he can be and he should have put himself in contention to make the starting XI with his latest display, and he will have to hope that Pulis feels the same way.

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