Tony Mowbray admits Richie Smallwood has a decision to make over his future this month.

Smallwood is yet to feature in a Championship squad and has six months left to run on his contract.

The combative midfielder opted to stay at the club in the summer, happy to fight for his place, but he has made just two Carabao Cup appearances so far.

Mowbray says the 29-year-old won’t be forced out, but opportunities are likely to remain limited for the midfielder who signed in 2017.

Smallwood was an ever-present in the League One promotion season but made just seven Championship appearances in 2019 and made his fifth appearance for the Under-23s in Monday night's defeat to Brighton. 

And Mowbray said: “I think Richie Smallwood has a decision to make, not me. I gave Richie my strong opinions in the summer window.

“He chose to stay, to keep going to see if he could break in. That was fine by me, I gave him the option and told him what was going to happen.

“He chose to stay so my conscience is pretty clear.

“This window he has a decision to make. I’m supportive whichever way he goes.

“I gave him the contract because he has been amazing for this football club. He was outstanding in League One to help this club bounce back from that division.

“He helped us consolidate last season but as I’ve said many times, I’m trying to move the club forward and the team on, and every window gives you the chance to do that.

“My personality is that I don’t ostracise players and tell them that they’re not training with the group, you're with the kids or coming in at 4pm, I don’t do that.

“If they’re good human being and show respect then they can train with the team and Richie knows the situations. It’s his decision rather than mine what happens from this stage.”

Despite his lack of game-time, and having turned out for the Under-23s on four occasions, Smallwood continues to train with the senior side.

That won’t change, according to Mowbray, despite what happens this month when several League One sides are likely to enquire about his availability.

And Mowbray added of Smallwood: “I’ve spoken to him this week and I have to put on record that he’s an amazing human being and a brilliant lad to have around the building.

“He trains like it’s his last every day, I’m having constant chats about when he’s going to play some football, when he’ll play for the Under-23s, what the plan is if we’re playing away, is he coming in on a Saturday morning?

“I don’t ostracise him. That might be the impression, but my relationship with Richie remains strong.

“What I’m trying to do in my mindset is every team needs to keep improving, keep rolling players in and out.”