Can Boro Players Step Up v Tykes in Carabao?
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 15 Sep 2020 15:50:00
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Neil Warnock might not be much of a fan of the old League Cup but tonight could be the night for several players to shine and force their way into the first team reckoning. The old campaigner is looking forward to running the rule over several players that can push their way through from fringe to first team. Sit back with him and tune in to see who can step on it and step up at 6pm for the £10 stream or radio commentary.

Two teams that fought tooth and nail to retain their Championship status at the end of last season, both Boro and Barnsley lost out in their opening games of this season. Boro and the Tykes will surely be looking ahead to Saturday and what this game can do to improve their respective league fortunes.

It could be all change for Boro tonight but for players like Nathan Wood, Dael Fry, Marc Bola, Hayden Coulson, Lewis Wing and Marcus Browne this could be a chance to really show the Boro boss that they are ready to step up week in week out and move on up with the Boro.

“I am actually looking forward to it,” Warnock told me at Monday's Pre match ZOOM conference. “I hate this cup if I am honest. I love the FA Cup. But tomorrow I am actually looking forward to it because there are so many people that have got things to show me. And they have all been doing well pre-season.”

Neil Warnock had earlier expanded on just how well many of this list had been doing, while for Hayden Coulson it is case of getting minutes on the clock after his virus and for Dael Fry it is still playing catch up after quarantine.

“It is going to be great for me to have a look against a good opposition because I think they will play a strong team. And it will be excellent for me to have a look at some of these lads with a view to Bournemouth and the games that are coming thick and fast after that.”

It might not be too late for some of these players to influence the manager's attempts in the transfer market if they can prove they are worthy competitors for some problem positions. And then there are the other questions to be resolved. Where is it best to start versatile players like Paddy McNair and Jonny Howson who can be highly influential in defence or midfield?

“Yes, just added problems isn't it.” Warnock beamed. “But it is lovely to have problems like McNair and Howson. What good professionals they are. I wish I had got problems like that all over the show. They never give me a minutes problem, they play wherever I want them to, they train every day as if it is their last day in training. That is what being a good pro is all about. Well, I will not get into that but when I watch some of these games last week and see some of the carry on.. dear me. Don't lets get into that.”

Of course the prize on offer tonight would in normal times be a glamour tie away at Stamford Bridge. But of course these are not normal times, with no fans allowed, rather than the big gate we would have been playing in front of.

“We would make a few quid then towards the transfers,” Warnock joked. “I would be knocking on his door then. Could I have all this income from the games. But unfortunately at the minute its losing money every week. It is very difficult for clubs.”

So, clearly the priority tonight is on future league games and surely you cannot blame Warnock for taking this stance. With so many fixtures and so few players at his disposal this could be a big opportunity for a few players to prove to their boss that they ought to be pressing for a start v Bournemouth on Saturday.

“Yes they might criticise me for my selection, I'm not too concerned with that at the minute I am just thinking soley on the club's behalf for a hectic run we have got over the next few weeks. We want to win it tomorrow why not? A trip down to Chelsea its a great stadium etc it is just disappointing for me when I look at the fixtures around the cup. I know they have got to have them but we seem to have got a short straw at the moment, what with the first couple of games and then the trips. I think it is pay back time from the FA this, I think, for me. Over the years. (laughs).”

Ha ha. I never thought of that you add Neil Warnock to Middlesbrough FC and we really cannot be expecting any favours whatsoever from the football authorities.

Final thoughts from the manager ahead of this evening's game.

“We have got to try and win the game You know we have worked on things today (Monday) with the group and I hope that they can pull it off, really. It won't be for the lack of preparation. Then its down to the players not to make elementary mistakes like we did on Saturday and to take our chances when they come.”

Don't forget 6pm kick off at the empty Riverside – BBC Radio Tees commentary available and matchday streams for £10 from mfc.co.uk https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/buy-your-match-pass-for-barnsley



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