'He doesn’t have to prove anything to me': Neil Warnock quizzed on Nathanial Mendez-Laing's future after impressive cameo against Stoke City
Neil Warnock hopes Nathanial Mendez-Laing will give Middlesbrough another dimension between now and the end of the season as the Teessiders hope to make a late charge for the play-offs.
The 28-year-old winger scored his first Boro goal after coming off the bench in a 3-0 win over Stoke and has been building up his match fitness since arriving as a free agent in January.
Before joining Boro, Mendez-Laing hadn’t played a competitive game since July after he was released by Cardiff.
Yet Warnock hopes the wideman can now show what he’s capable of for Boro’s final ten Championship games.
“He can win games. That’s what you need at this level,” said the Boro boss.
“We haven’t had enough goals this season and that’s why we are where we are really.
“But I thought it was a team performance to create the goal and Mendez can score at any level.
“I can show you his two goal Old Trafford on the final day of the 2018/19 Premier League and he terrorised the full-back that day.
“He has plenty of potential but he’s been out a while.
“I don’t want him to try too hard. He’s just got to do what he's doing, things like now, training after the game and get some mileage in and hopefully he’ll get some starts in before the end of the season.”
Mendez-Laing signed a short-term contract at Boro until the end of the season and has provided competition on the flanks along with Yannick Bolasie and Marvin Johnson, who was already at the club.
When asked if Boro could keep Mendez-Laing next season, Warnock replied: “There’s a long way to go yet, he knows that. I’ve only just sorted myself out!
“He knows he doesn’t have to prove anything to me. I know what he can do.
“He just has to work hard to get fit.
“Sometimes when he’s come on he’s tried too hard and there’s no need to do that.
“He’s a worker as well. He works back.
“I do like that 4-3-3 at times but you’ve got to have your Mendezs and Yannicks and Marvs to do it.”