Brentford v Middlesbrough – Not even late kick-off can dampen Neil Warnock’s love for FA Cup

IT would take a lot to diminish Neil Warnock’s love of the FA Cup.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Even the ghastly situation with Covid-19 across the country has failed to do that.

The Middlesbrough manager will not have a full compliment of players today due to several positive tests, but today’s tie is one he is still looking forward to – albeit with one gripe.

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Namely the kick-off time of 6pm, which will see Boro players not return to the north-east until the early hours of Sunday.

He said: “At this moment in time, we are travelling four hours down and it is five hours back and for some reason, we are playing at six, which means we are going to get back on two in the bloody morning on the buses.

“We have just got to take extra precautions really. The lads that are not travelling will do sessions at home and we will not be in the training ground until Wednesday.”

Boro’s players and staff were tested at the start of the week, with the club’s Rockliffe training ground subsequently closed down due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

More tests took place on Friday and there will be more on Monday.

It is far from ideal preparation for a football match, but Warnock is still relishing the game. It may yet be his last direct involvement in the FA Cup as a manager, although hopefully not.

“I love the FA Cup, it is something I have always been brought up with since I was a kid,” he said.

“We would set the alarms, so we would be up at seven o’clock, so we could be in front of the television at eight so we could have an ‘FA Cup breakfast.’

“There were all the things, right up until the teams came out (on finals day). It is an amazing day.

“I love the FA Cup. I don’t want to just go down and play the Under-23s. I want to play as many as I can from the group. I don’t just want to throw the tie away.

“Brentford is a great place to be with a lovely stadium and really strong team and the lads that are in the team have got things to show me and a couple of the lads have volunteered to play.”

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