Middlesbrough v Preston North End – Neil Warnock looks for Boro to stand up and be counted

PRESTON may not be one of the big-hitters at Championship level, but they undoubtedly fall into the bracket of ‘tough’ according to Neil Warnock.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED: Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock wants his players to fight fire with fire against Preston tonight. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

His Middlesbrough side were overpowered – and bullied to some degree – in the reverse fixture at Deepdale, when North End ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in December.

It proved to be a rare good day at the office on home soil this term for Alex Neil’s side, whose home form is the fourth worst in the division – with the Lancastrians having taken six more points on the road.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Warnock said: “They have got very good players in areas that, if you allow them, they can really punish you.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil oversaw a 3-0 win against Middlesbrough at Deepdale in December. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

“But I do think we are better against tough teams like Preston if I am honest. We know we will have to defend better than last time because they got three goals out of nothing really.

“It will be a good test for us. They really physically dominated us for parts of the game up there so we will have to stand up and be counted.”

To maintain their hopes of the top six, victory is imperative for Boro, who are eight points behind Barnsley, the side currently occupying the final play-off position.

Warnock admits he has been impressed by the outstanding feats of the Oakwell outfit and reads nothing into dismissive talk about their style or that or another play-off contender in Cardiff.

He said: “I love it when clubs like Barnsley do what they have done. I love Barnsley and that was my favourite club as a player.

“Hey, they are not everyone’s cup of tea with the way they play, but I have been criticised for similar styles throughout my career.

“But there is no divine right. Mick McCarthy has just gone 11 games undefeated and won eight games.

“You have to take your hat off to Barnsley and Cardiff.

“It is an incredible feat at this level.

“I am looking forward to going to Barnsley and competing against them and let’s see where we are. 

“It was my favourite club as a player and had two great years there. It just shows you with all the big clubs in the world, it is what is in your dressing room which gets you there.”

Last six games: Middlesbrough WLDWLW; Preston LDWLDL.

Referee: O Langford (West Midlands).

Last time: Middlesbrough 1 Preston 1, October 1, 2019; Championship.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.