Neil Warnock hopes for Yannick Bolasie fitness boost as Middlesbrough prepare for Coventry and Swansea tests
Neil Warnock is hopeful Yannick Bolasie will be available to play for Middlesbrough again this week following a hamstring injury.
Boro are preparing for back-to-back away games against Coventry and Swansea as they try to stay in touching distance of the Championship play-off pack.
Bolasie, who joined the Teessiders on loan from Everton in January, has missed his new side’s last five games but has returned to training.
Before making his Boro debut against Norwich in January, the 31-year-old hadn’t played a competitive game for nearly a year, and Warnock says the winger is still building up his match fitness.
The same can be said of Boro’s other new signings Neeskens Kebano and Nathanial Mendez-Laing, who both featured in the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff at the Riverside.
Mendez-Laing made his first start for the Teessiders and caused problems for Cardiff wing-back Joe Bennett in the first half.
“I thought he did well, I was pleased with him,” said Warnock when asked about Mendez-Laing after the game.
“I told him on Tuesday night after the game against Bristol that I’d be starting him if he was alright because Cardiff is a difficult one for him.
“He was up for it and I said if you can give me an hour, and he gave me 70 minutes.
“I was really pleased, Benno got booked and I thought we had a few opportunities down that side so it’s another string to our bow.”
Boro are five points off the top six with 13 games to play, yet Warnock hopes Mendez-Laing and his other new signings will help the team improve for the remainder of the campaign.
“He will get sharper,” Warnock added. “He has been out a long time really. That’s the same with Kebano really, he hasn’t had much football.
"Yannick hasn’t either, and if you had seen him on the training ground yesterday … they told me he wasn’t fit as well.
“I think I am in the wrong game. They say he has to do longer sprints, longer runs. Hopefully he will be available at some stage before next weekend I hope.”