NEIL WARNOCK is adamant he has not closed the door on James Lea-Siliki and Martin Payero despite questioning the pair’s readiness for life in the Championship.

However, with Lea-Siliki about to head off on international duty with Cameroon, the Middlesbrough manager has repeated his claim that it would be better for the midfielder to remain on Teesside next month rather than travel to Africa.

Having arrived in the summer from France and Argentina respectively, both Lea-Siliki and Payero have found their game time in a Middlesbrough shirt extremely limited.

The pair were unused substitutes in last night's 2-0 home win over Sheffield United, with Warnock having admitted before the game that he was no longer willing to select them in an attempt to build up their match fitness.

The Boro boss clearly harbours reservations about the duo’s ability to cope with the pace and intensity of the Championship, but while they are unlikely to find themselves back in the team for Saturday’s trip to Hull City, Warnock insists he has not given up on them.

“It’s not rocket science really,” he said. “We got undone on Saturday by lads not really being sharp enough. I’d had enough really. I thought I’d just go with what I’ve got and I was pleased with the performance (against Sheffield United). I thought there were some good performances on the night.

“These lads (Lea-Siliki and Payero), it’s so hard to come into the Championship, but I’ve spent too long on that, talking about fitness and things. I’ll let the fitness guys do that, and just pick my team. If they warrant being in the team, then they’ll be in the team.”

After Saturday’s game at Hull’s KC Stadium, Lea-Siliki will head off on a two-game international break with Cameroon.

The West African nation will tackle home-and-away World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique next month, but if the last couple of international breaks are anything to go by, Lea-Siliki is unlikely to find himself in Cameroon manager Toni Conceicao’s starting line-up.

With that in mind, Warnock has suggested that the 25-year-old should remain on Teesside in order to build up his fitness with the rest of Boro’s non-internationals, but his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“They need to get up to fitness,” he said. “James has done well over the last couple of weeks, but now he’s going away with Cameroon for two weeks – he’ll probably play five minutes in one game and five minutes in another, stroll around for two weeks, and come back where he was two or three weeks ago.

“It’s not healthy really for me, but I’m not going to worry about that now. If that’s the case, I’ll just move on and play somebody else.”