Derby County v Middlesbrough - Neil Warnock hoping for fitness boost

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock.Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock admits injuries have been getting him down lately but he hopes to have central defender Dael Fry back for today’s Championship trip to Derby County.

The 23-year-old has only featured in one of the last three matches thanks to an eye then a calf injury, but was back on the Rockliffe pitches for light training this week.

Warnock hopes he will be able to lighten his mood with others improving too.

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“You do feel a little bit down when you’re a manager and your so-called best players are missing,” he said when asked about Fry and Marcus Tavernier, whose knee injury is unlikely to recover in time for him to play at Pride Park.

“It never seems to be your fringe players who are missing, it’s always your main players.

“I know they have done some training this week, the pair of them, and I am really buoyant that they will be involved.

“Dael is likely to tell me he’ll be okay.”

Deadline-night signing Nathaniel Mendez-Laing is also sharpening up, and could be involved from the bench.

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Longer-term absentees Ashley Fletcher and Grant Hall are also on their way back, having played 90 minutes for the Under-23s against Leeds United last Sunday. Warnock will take it easy with them, as he must.

“They are available now but they’ve been out for such a long time both of them,” he said.

“Whatever decision you make you are crossing your fingers all the time, I’m doing that with a few players at the moment because we will have more injuries.”

Derby will include Patrick Roberts, who cut short his second Riverside loan to join them on deadline day.

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Warnock has no fears about a former player coming back to haunt him.

“I think every time Patrick goes onto the pitch he’ll have a point to prove, not just against us,” he 
said of the Manchester City youngster.

“He’s that type of lad.

“I don’t think playing us will up him 20 per cent or knock him 20 per cent. I think, as he always is, he’ll be trying to do the best he can.

“I just couldn’t get him into the team in a position where I felt that we didn’t have a better alternative.”

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