Warnock wants reaction from Boro against City after ‘week from hell’
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Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has sung the praises of Norwich City’s impressive season and is calling for a reaction from his players after a “week from hell”.
Boro’s play-off chase was knocked by a 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn last Sunday, with full-back Anfernee Dijksteel missing the game due to a need for dental surgery on an abscess.
Star defender Dael Fry suffered a nasty facial cut during that loss as a high boot left him with blurred vision and influential midfielder Marcus Tavernier was also forced off with a knee injury which could keep him out for weeks.
All three missed a shock 3-0 home loss to lowly Rotherham on Wednesday night but Warnock may have Fry back in contention against leaders Norwich on Saturday lunchtime, with forward Yannick Bolassie signed from Everton ahead of the game and Preston full-back Darnell Fisher also potentially involved after being signed ahead of the trip to Norfolk.
Asked if Norwich are the toughest test his team could be facing this weekend, having joked about his "week from hell", managerial veteran Warnock replied: “It is, yeah. I’m hoping it will be the toughest test for Norwich as well, I think we should have beaten them here, fair and square, so I want us to give a good account.
“Whatever problems we’ve got, I want to go down there and be positive, give a good account of ourselves.
“I suppose, on paper, anything from Saturday’s game is a bonus. I think our season starts with the next game and I want us to go down there and try to enjoy it, give them a good game really.”
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Boro’s 1-0 defeat at the Riverside in November came courtesy of a Teemu Pukki penalty in the 72nd minute but only after Tavernier saw a spot-kick bizarrely ruled out soon after half-time for the hosts, with the referee judging he had touched the ball twice when converting successfully.
Since then Norwich have pressed on as leaders but Warnock’s team are still very much in the mix for a play-off place.
“Because we’re the underdogs and nobody gives us a sniff, I think we’ve just got to go down there and give it our best shot, be positive and forget about the woeful week we’ve had and the things that have gone against us,” the former Sheffield United and Crystal Palace boss continued.
“You always feel a bit hard done to but that’s how it is, you’ve got to move on quickly and I feel really positive about Saturday, I’m looking forward to it.
“They’re runaway leaders, I thought we did well against them here and I hope that we can give them a real tough game.
“They’ll be laughing their heads off that we had to play Sunday afternoon and Wednesday night, I’m sure, when they’ve had a nice relaxing week after their game last Saturday – but it doesn’t always work like that, does it?!”
Warnock was keen to praise Canaries boss Daniel Farke ahead of the game and made sure to reserve some kind words for the mother of City’s joint majority shareholder Delia Smith, Etty, who passed away at the age of 100 in November.
“They’re the best team in the league, I like Daniel, I think he’s a super guy,” he continued, speaking to his club’s official website.
“I was really pleased that they stuck with him when they got relegated – one of the best managers around, I think.
“They run the club properly, they invest in young players, sell them at the right time and bring them in. I’ve always got on well with Delia and her mother, who’s sadly passed away now – a wonderful woman, her mother.”
Despite three defeats in four games, the 72-year-old Yorkshireman is looking forward to seeing what the remainder of the season has in store.
Warnock added: “Once we get these three lads back and we’ve added two or three more to the squad, I’ll be really looking forward to the run-in, from February onwards.”