Neil Warnock preparing for tough test against Hull City with Middlesbrough boss cautious over Sol Bamba
Neil Warnock is expecting a tough test when his Middlesbrough side travel to take on Yorkshire rivals Hull City this weekend after the Tigers ended a run of four games without a win against Blackpool.
Boro will be backed by a sell-out away following on Humberside as Warnock’s side go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time this season after a standout display in midweek against Sheffield United.
But the Boro boss is experienced enough to know the threats his side will face on the back of a win, taking on a Hull side yet to win at home this season with the 72-year-old admitting his side will need to start fast at the Kcom Stadium.
“It’ll not be any less difficult a game,” said Warnock.
“Hull did ever so well the other night – they were losing to Blackpool they had a man sent off and they not only equalised but should have won the game.
“Even with 10 men, they’ve got a good group of players and they’re genuine. They’ll work hard for each other so we’ve got to be ready for it.
“We’re taking a good following with us so we’ve got to make sure we come out the traps and not give Hull any start.
“I don’t tell them to start slow. They have to motivate themselves, but if 3,500 people behind you doesn’t motivate you then nothing will.
“The lads we’ve got all know what’s at stake.”
Focus will be on Warnock’s starting XI on Saturday and whether or not he will make any changes to his side following a hugely impressive, and much-needed, win over Sheffield United.
While Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair took the plaudits for two fine strikes, it was veteran defender Sol Bamba who earned the attention of Boro supporters rolling back the years to blunt the Blades and help Warnock’s side to their third clean sheet of the season.
The 36-year-old’s renaissance back into football at this level has been remarkable this season having only announced his all clear status from a battle with lymphoma in May.
And Boro boss Warnock, who was only too happy to offer Bamba a favour in the summer by allowing him to train, says he will have to be careful with his use of the defender.
“He was still very stiff after the game on Tuesday.
“He just has to have to have some tender loving care really. We’ll have a look at him and see what’s what.
“We’ve got to be careful with him. I didn’t expect him to play the full 90 minutes if I’m honest but he did ever so well.
“He helped Dael as well. I think they all responded well to him talking and they were good together.”
Warnock also revealed he is unlikely to welcome back any of his injured players, the likes of Anfernee Dijksteel and Marcus Browne, at the weekend while also being alert to the threat of suspension for two of his key starters.
“I don’t think any of the injured lads will be ready until after the international break.
“We’ve also got two on four cards – Peltier and Crooks – so we’ve got to hope they can get through the game without picking up a booking.”