NEIL WARNOCK insists his relationship with Britt Assombalonga remains intact, and says he has held discussions with the Middlesbrough striker about his plans beyond the end of the season.

Assombalonga is due to become a free agent in the summer, and Warnock has previously said Boro’s £15m record signing will have to agree to a significant pay cut before the club would even consider discussing a new contract.

Having been left out of the squad for last weekend’s defeat at Swansea City because Warnock said he was struggling with illness, Assombalonga posted a picture on Instagram this week that showed him laughing in training with the caption “Under the weather” and a laughing face emoji.

Assombalonga was stripped of the captain’s armband last month, with Warnock appointing Jonny Howson as skipper, but the Boro boss insists he has not fallen out with his leading centre-forward.

“I haven’t got a problem (with him),” said Warnock. “Obviously, I’m not daft and he’s not daft, and I think these next two or three games will decide what we’re going to do and we’ll act accordingly after that.

“I’ve spoken to Britt quite a lot. Before Christmas he was my captain, so I obviously spoke to him most days. I know what his feelings are, and he knows what mine are. There’s 11 games to go, and at the moment we haven’t looked further than next week really.”

With Assombalonga and Fletcher both out of contract in June – the latter has opted to keep his options open after he was offered a new deal on reduced terms – Warnock will oversee a major overhaul of his attacking ranks this summer.

“If you look at all the top teams in this league, you’ll see all the goalscorers at those teams, really,” he said. “You look at Ivan Toney and people like that, and you look on with envy really because you know one player like that could make the whole difference. They’re few and far between though, there’s not that many around."