Middlesbrough FC boss Neil Warnock makes an admission regarding Hull City rival Grant McCann

MIDLESBROUGH manager Neil Warnock has paid tribute to the determination of Hull City rival Grant McCann amid testing circumstances at the MKM Stadium - after admitting that he expected him to leave in the aftermath of the Tigers' relegation from the second tier at the end of 2019-20.

Middlesbrough FC manager Neil Warnock.

Despite a desperate second half of that particular campaign, when City entered into freefall, McCann stayed put and dusted himself down in outstanding fashion to orchestrate an instant return to the Championship for the club - with Hull also lifting their first title since 1965-66.

City have endured a difficult start on their return to this level, but Warnock - whose side were beaten 2-1 at Hull on their last visit to East Yorkshire in July, 2020 - believes that they are in capable hands and was impressed by their spirit amid adversity in their midweek draw with Blackpool.

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Warnock, whose side are seeking to follow up an impressive victory over his former club Sheffield United with another success over Yorkshire opposition, said: "The other night, Hull did ever so well.

"They were losing to Blackpool and had a man sent off. But not only did they equalise, they should they have won the game and they had a great chance with a good save from the Blackpool keeper.

"They have a good, genuine group of players who work hard for each other and we have got to be up and ready for it as well. We are taking a good following, 3,500 going down, and we have got to get out of the traps and not give Hull any start."

Praising the aptitude and resilience of McCann, Warnock added: "I think the manager has done a great job over the years.

They have had problems on and off the field and when they get relegated, I expected Grant to leave and he didn't and he rolled his sleeves up and I think: 'well done to him.' He will have learnt so much in his tenure there - the ups and downs

"He is a level-headed young man and I think he has a future in the game. I hope they turn things around - but hopefully I want it after the weekend."