Neil Warnock admits Middlesbrough still lack a natural leader as he assesses potential transfer targets

Neil Warnock says Middlesbrough still lack a natural leader like he’s had at previous clubs – but admits they aren’t easy to find.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 7:04 am

Warnock named Boro striker Britt Assombalonga as club captain at the start of the season but has since given the armband to Jonny Howson – a player who has been repeatedly praised for his professionalism and consistency.

Yet Howson, who signed a one-year contract extension at Boro in November, has himself admitted he’s not the most vocal character.

When he first arrived at Boro last June, Warnock highlighted the squad’s lack of leaders, suggesting he’d like to sign a player like Sean Morrison or Aron Gunnarsson who he managed at Cardiff.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock.

After signing a new deal to stay at the Riverside for at least another year, Warnock is now looking at potential transfer targets who could improve his squad.

When asked by the Mail if he’ll still be looking to bring in a vocal leader, the Boro boss replied: “It’s easier said than done, I just don’t think they’re around.

“I think the nearest one I’ve got is Grant Hall, he’s been getting back his fitness. I’ve tried not to rush him so that he doesn’t break down again. His calmness and assurance brings the best out of other people as well.

“Jonny Howson has taken it on another level but he’s a quiet talker behind the scenes, he’s not a shouter like a Gunnasson type player.

“They are very difficult to find so you have to find an alternative so we have to try and look at things, how we can limit the strengths of opponents and put our strengths forward and see what players we can get.

“I think everybody knows the positions I’m going to be looking for and we probably need two or three in the same position at times.

“I’m quite happy with the situation with two thirds of the squad really.”

Boro are likely to prioritise signing another striker this summer, especially as Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher will be out of contract.

"I think with Britt and Ashley out of contract it’s natural,” added Warnock.

“We might need two, maybe even three strikers if they do leave and it’s getting the right ones.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Middlesbrough coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor