Middlesbrough Q&A: Will Everton and Fulham loanees stay next season and was Sam Morsy fortunate against Preston?
Middlesbrough made it back-to-back wins after a 2-0 victory over Preston at the Riverside – and there was plenty to discuss after the match.
An own goal from visiting defender Jordan Storey and Marcus Tavernier header gave the Teessiders all three points, while Preston captain Alan Browne was controversially sent off.
We take a closer look at some of the big questions and talking points as Neil Warnock’s side prepare for Saturday’s trip to Millwall:
What are the chances of Yannick Bolasie and Neeskens Kebano staying next season?
The two wideman appear to be finding their best form after joining the Teessiders on loan in January.
Both players offer pace and power on the flanks, which Boro have lacked this season, and they also have quality to deliver inviting crosses or beat their full-back when the ball is at their feet.
It would be a shame if Boro supporters don’t get to see Bolasie and Kebano live, and Warnock will surely want to keep the pair if it’s financially viable.
In Bolasie’s case, he is on loan from Everton but his contract at Goodison Park will end at the end of the season.
There will be plenty of clubs interested in the 31-year-old, so the player will have to decide what is best forn his career.
As for Kebano, he is under contract at Fulham until 2022 so if the Cottergers are relegated from the Premier League, it’s likely they’ll want to keep him.
Should Scott Parker’s side stay in the top flight, though, his chances the 29-year-old is likely to remain surplus to requirements.
At present it’s too early to assess the situation, with Boro still evaluating their contract options.
Should Sam Morsy have been sent off?
For once, a big refereeing decision went in Boro’s favour against Preston.
The Teessiders have had their fiar share of bad calls this term, the game at Swansea and tackle on Dael Fry against Blackburn spring to mind.
Yet against Preston, it was Alex Neil’s side who felt hard done by when captain Alan Brown was dismissed.
Looking at it back, I think the decision was extremely harsh as Boro’s Sam Morsy and Browne both took subtle digs at one another.
In my view, I don’t think either player did enough to be sent off, although I agree with Preston boss Alex Neil that Morsy was the instigator.
It also seemed a harsh decision for referee Oliver Langford to send Neil off at half-time, with the Preston manager pointing out he wasn’t swearing or overly aggressive.
Fortune was on Boro’s side.
How much of an impact has Grant Hall made?
Hall’s return from injury has come at just the right time for Boro.
In the six games he’s started since February, the Teessiders have conceded just four goals and lost just once – away at Swansea in controversial circumstances.
The 29-year-old has also scored twice and poses a threat from set-pieces.
Most importantly, though, Hall has shored up Boro’s defence and is forming an effective partnership with Dael Fry.
Warnock has praised the defender for the way he applied himself while out injured and the Teessiders are now reaping the rewards.