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Sky Sports pundit backs Middlesbrough to challenge for promotion next season

Speaking on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast, pundit Andy Hinchcliffe assessed Middlesbrough’s chances of promotion next season.

Middlesbrough are of course still in with a shout of achieving promotion this season, although Saturday’s defeat at Swansea City could have damaged their hopes of achieving a place in the Championship’s top six.

The result leaves them sitting in ninth position, but they are seven points off Barnsley in sixth. If the Tykes win their game in hand however, Boro will be 10 points away with just 11 games left to play between now and the end of the current campaign, which could be too much ground to make up.

Hinchcliffe didn’t necessarily assess the club’s chances of promotion this season, but did say that Neil Warnock will be eyeing the opportunity of adding to his already record-breaking number of promotions throughout his managerial career in 2021/22.

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“That’s what he’ll be looking at,” said the pundit.

“The juices flow for Neil Warnock when there are crowds in the stadium and what he’s done at Middlesbrough without any fans in the stadium shows how he knows the game inside out.

“He’s shown that he’s put the foundation in there for a good season next season and that’s why [Chairman] Steve Gibson was really keen for him to stay on.”

He went on to say that the division will be anyone’s game next season, but admitted there is a strong possibility Middlesbrough could make it out of the Championship and back into the top tier.

“Next season the Championship is going to be wide open but with fans in there and Neil Warnock in charge Middlesbrough will be in with a shout.

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“Middlesbrough need him and the Championship needs him. It’s great that these old guys are showing these young pups how to do it.”

Warnock took over from ‘young pup’ Jonathan Woodgate at the end of last season, with the veteran manager having been brought in to steady the ship with the club nearing relegation down to League One.

The 72-year-old managed to keep Boro in the division with ease and has transformed the Teessiders into promotion candidates. They will be hoping to keep pace with the top six this weekend when they take on Michael O’Neill’s Stoke City side at the Riverside.

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