Middlesbrough v Peterborough: ‘My team is like a box of chocolates’ says Neil Warnock

NEIL WARNOCK will know exactly how Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp felt last season.

The crisis at the back at Anfield was the defining factor in the 2019-20 Premier League champions’ inhibited defence of their Premier League title last term.

For Warnock’s Middlesbrough side – also currently decimated in terms of options at the back – it is threatening to become a major story in their 2021-22 Championship campaign.

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As it stands, veteran centre-half Sol Bamba, 36, who has started just three league games for the Teessiders and was primarily brought in as cover, is Boro’s only fit central defender for today’s encounter with Peterborough.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock. Picture: PA.Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock. Picture: PA.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock. Picture: PA.

An absentee list at the back including Grant Hall, Dael Fry, Anfernee Dijksteel and Darnell Fisher has now been supplemented by the addition of Marc Bola, while Lee Peltier is also suspended this afternoon.

Paddy McNair, should he come through training after returning from international duty, is likely to revert from midfield into the backline, while Jonny Howson – who has operated in a three-man defence in the past – could also be moved back, as potentially could Matt Crooks.

Trying his best to put on a brave face, Warnock said: “We are decimated, but the good news is that everyone that is playing and training hard really wants to play and is enjoying it. So that is the good news..

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“I watched Forrest Gump last (Thursday) night and I thought: ‘My team is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get...”

“Instead of life being like a box of chocolates, it’s my team.

“It has been a nightmare, but the lads who have trained have been great.”

Warnock’s bid to boost his options by bringing in a couple of new players in the free agent market has unfortunately proved unsuccessful – to compound matters for the vastly-experienced Sheffielder.

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Warnock, whose side have lost four of their last six matches, added: “We are what we have got and I have said to the lads: ‘let’s go and enjoy it.’

“The chips are down, but we have got some good players. It just seems to be defenders who are struggling at the minute.

“We are going to ask the crowd to lift us and get behind us. I think they will realise the difficulty of the occasion.

“But I think the lads can lift the crowd and the crowd can lift the lads.

“It is going to take togetherness.”

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