O'Neil upset at Boro omission

Midfielder caught up in contract wrangle

O'Neil: Upset

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Middlesbrough midfielder Gary O'Neil is unhappy he has been left out of the team for non-footballing reasons.

O'Neil was left out of the squad for Easter Monday's win at Plymouth as his 100th appearance for Boro would have triggered a £1million payment to his cash-strapped former club Portsmouth.

It was revealed over the weekend that Portsmouth are entitled to a payment from Middlesbrough once O'Neil reached the 100-game mark for the Teesside club.

Portsmouth claimed Middlesbrough were trying to renegotiate the final payment on the deal which took O'Neil to The Riverside in 2007.

Middlesbrough responded to the claim, with chief executive Keith Lamb stating the club will honour all payments to Portsmouth for O'Neil.


However, O'Neil, who completed his 99th performance for Middlesbrough against Crystal Palace on Saturday, was then left out of the squad to face Plymouth, with the club initially suggesting his non-participation was due to injury.

Boro boss Gordon Strachan has since admitted the 26-year-old was left out of the 2-0 win at Home Park because of the payment issue, with it being suggested he may not play again this season because of the situation.

O'Neil's agent, Eric Walters, has confirmed the player is disappointed to be caught up in the furore between the two clubs and has moved to confirm O'Neil is fit and available for selection.

"I wasn't privy to the contract made between Portsmouth and Middlesbrough when Gary was brought in," said Walters in a statement issued to skysports.com.

"But it does seem that a business decision has been made to ensure that future payments due to Portsmouth aren't triggered because as far as I am aware Gary O'Neil is fit and available for selection. He's not injured."