Steven Schumacher

Middlesbrough (H) | Schumacher's Preview

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Forwards Ryan Hardie and Mustapha Bundu are both unavailable for Saturday’s home game against Middlesbrough.

Both Hardie and Bundu limped off during last weekend’s 3-2 defeat at Ipswich Town, and manager Steven Schumacher has confirmed that both remain on the injured list with hamstring problems. Their absence could open the door for Ben Waine to stake a claim in the central striker’s role for the Greens.

In the credit column, Schumacher said that Callum Wright and Brendan Galloway have come through a week’s training, and come into the contention for the squad, as do Tyreik Wright and 17-year-old Freddie Issaka.

“They’re both unavailable for this weekend,” said Schumacher, of Bundu and Hardie. “They’ve both got grade two hamstring strains, which is a bit of a blow.

“We felt Ryan's might have been worse because Ryan is still quite sore. Mustapha is moving a little bit better; he's got a bit more range and a bit more power through his hamstring. Touch wood, he won't be too long. As [physiotherapist] Gareth [Law] always says, he'll treat the player and not the scan, and get their rehab in order accordingly, to get them back on the pitch as soon as possible.

“We're going to be light in that department, but it is an opportunity for someone else to step in and take it.

“Waineo is now our senior, recognised number nine. He's the only one available. He's been waiting for his opportunity and his chance to start a run of games. Let's hope he can take it.

“Tyreik Wright will come back into the squad. We'll probably put Freddie [Issaka] in the squad for the weekend.

“You never know in football, funny things happen. We all know how exciting we think Freddie's going to be, but he's not quite ready yet. Now is his opportunity and he might prove everyone wrong.”

Argyle face a Middlesbrough side who have been on somewhat of a resurgence in recent weeks. Although they lost their last league game, at home to Stoke City, Boro won their previous six.  Remarkably, all that followed Michael Carrick’s team getting just two points from their opening seven encounters, after which they sat bottom of the table.

“They had quite a big turnover on the players from what they had last season,” said Schumacher. “They lost a few big players for them, lads who scored goals, and it took a little bit of time, I think, for their team to gel.

“Nobody expected them to be bottom of the league when they were, but you could see by looking at their squad [that they would improve]. I remember reading Michael's comments when they were losing games. He was saying that their performances were good, they just were not coming out on top of those big moments, so probably similar to how we're feeling.

“Of late, they’ve got themselves going really well. I went to watch them on Tuesday night [in the Carabao Cup against Exeter City]. They didn't start the game great, but got better, showed quality in the second half.

“They are in good form. We know all the strengths that Middlesbrough are going to have, but we've got to try and be confident and be us as well.

“We know we're going to be the underdogs again because they're a massive club in the Championship, but we’ll just do our best.”

You can see the full interview with Steven Schumacher right now on Argyle TV. 

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