ADAMA TRAORE is so good that it is a “joke”, according to Middlesbrough team-mate Britt Assombalonga, and it is one that the club’s fans have every reason to smile about now.

Traore looked set to leave over the summer, with Lille seeing a £9m bid rejected last month, and he was left out of the starting line-up for Boro’s opening five league matches, with manager Garry Monk apparently preparing for his departure.

The Barcelona youth graduate has been maddeningly inconsistent since his move from Aston Villa just over 12 months ago, yet no one doubts his ability.

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That ability came to the fore as he was restored to the Boro line-up at Bolton on Saturday, and set up two goals for Assombalonga in a 3-0 win.

Manager Garry Monk is now looking to Traore to produce such impressive form on a regular basis to help Boro mount a promotion challenge, and has the backing of his team-mate to keep on making an impact.

Assombalonga said: “He’s a joke. Honestly, words can’t describe how good he is. We see it every day in training. I’m just happy he’s on our team.

He’s got it there. When his head’s right, he’s got it there, and he’s shown it. He’s going to be a top player. He’s still young.”

Traore’s time in England has been one largely of disappointment so far, suffering two Premier League relegations in his first two seasons, firstly with Villa, then with Boro.

Monk is hopeful that, now the winger is staying, he can find his form in the Championship and assist with a promotion challenge.

“I think we all know what he can bring,” Monk said. “Adama’s been fantastic. We’ve worked very hard with him individually, and he’s worked very hard with the group.”

The decision to pay Nottingham Forest £15m for Assombalonga is paying dividends too, with the forward taking his goal total to four in six matches with his two at Bolton.

It is the second time he has scored twice for Boro, having done so in the 2-0 win over Burton last month, and that has only increased the striker’s desire for his first hat-trick for his new club.

“I’ve got a problem with scoring twos,” he joked. “I think they’re hat-tricks, but they’re not! I came close again, but it’s one of those. I’ll save it for next time.”

Asked when he might get his first Boro hat-trick, he replied: “It’ll be coming soon. Soon. I don’t want to stick a date on it, though.”

The striker feels his decision to end his three-year stay at Forest and join Boro has been justified so far, and is certain the club will challenge for promotion.

“It was a big decision for me to come to Middlesbrough,” he said. “I spent three or four years at Forest, and I thought I had to go out and take on a new challenge. I felt Middlesbrough was the right place, and I haven’t regretted it.

“We’re showing we’re ready to challenge. But we can’t just show it in dribs and drabs. We have to show it in every game."