Middlesbrough v QPR - Grant Hall’s return a timely bonus

FOR Neil Warnock, an underwhelming spell in what should have been a season-defining time in Middlesbrough’s campaign has had one saving grace.

While the form of many of the club’s players has been spasmodic of late, culminating in the fact that Teessiders have just pride to play for in the remaining games of the campaign, with their play-off prospects over, one player has stood out in the shape of defender Grant Hall.

Sidelined by injury in the first half of the season, summer arrival Hall – who faces his former club this afternoon – has been one of the few pluses of 2021 so far and marked himself out to be a key player for Boro next term, all being well.

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Warnock said: “It has been a blessing really with the injuries to (Anfernee) Dijksteel and Dael Fry. It has been a massive plus.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock.

“I did not think he would be able to come back as he has, if I am 100 per cent honest.

“I thought he’d put a bit of weight and I did not see the mobility, but he has proved me entirely wrong and he has come back better and fitter than I have ever seen him and used his experience around the back.

“He has been a breath of fresh air, really, apart from his own goal at Millwall.”

Both sides have little at stake at the Riverside today and for Warnock – likely to have a look at young striker Josh Coburn from the bench in the closing weeks of the campaign – admits to being more than a touch rueful.

The Boro chief added: “Players always play for pride and we have not got many players who are already on their summer holidays and they are quite a decent bunch.

“It is just the mistakes we have made in these last few weeks; it’s like all season, really.

“It has cost us dearly and is doubly frustrating for me to think we have got to start planning for next season – whereas we should be planning for getting in the play-offs and trying to get promotion.

“It is really frustrating, probably moreso for me because of my age.

“But the lads will not change. You are not going to see Paddy, Grant and Jonny Howson change the way they are and they bring everybody on anyhow.”

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