Neil Warnock rules Middlesbrough out of play-off chase

MIDDLESBROUGH may have won five of their last eight Championship games to keep their play-off lights flickering, but Neil Warnock remains unconvinced about their top-six hopes.

Back with a goal: Middlesbrough's Marcus Tavernier celebrates scoring the second goal. Picture: PA

The Boro chief, whose side visit Bournemouth and Barnsley in the first half of April, insists that his side have ‘little chance’ of gatecrashing the play-off party, despite back-to-back home wins over Preston and Stoke keeping their show on the road. He said: “I don’t think we have much chance, really. I don’t think you will have bookies giving us small odds.

“We’ve still got to keep winning and going down to Millwall (next) is not an easy game. But we go down there in good spirits and to win two in four days, you cannot do any more.”

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Successive Riverside victories is at least a step in the right direction, with Warnock particularly happy to see one of his ‘moaners’ with a smile on his face in Marcus Tavernier who made the game safe with Boro’s second in the 2-0 success over Preston shortly after coming on at half-time.

Back from injury, Tavernier struck his fourth goal of the season and with Warnock’s central strikers having underwhelmed this term, the input of wingers Tavernier, Yannick Bolaise, Neeskens Kebano and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will be critical if Boro are to reach the top six.

Warnock said: “You miss Tav. He moans like hell, but you miss his moaning. But he is good to have around the place.

“He is like a young kid at school and he wants to play in every game. All right, sometimes he overdoes it and has another touch and things like that. But his enthusiasm comes through and you do miss that.”

The Boro chief is unhappy at the prospective schedule for Northern Ireland duo George Saville and Paddy McNair in the forthcoming international break.

That said, McNair looks a doubt with an issue with his kneecap and Warnock added: “We have lost (Anfernee) Dijksteel now and might have lost Paddy (McNair). They have played 56 games in 10 months. It is horrendous, really.

“Then, you look at the (Northern) Irish lads... They go away on Saturday night and play three games in 10 days, finishing on a Wednesday night in Northern Ireland and we go to Bournemouth on a Friday afternoon? It’s bloody scandalous, isn’t it?”

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