Middlesbrough, “He’s proven me entirely wrong” – Middlesbrough boss makes defender admission

“He’s proven me entirely wrong” – Middlesbrough boss makes defender admission

In an interview with Teesside Live, Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock admitted he has been ‘proven wrong’ by the performances of summer signing Grant Hall.

Hall started the season at the back for Middlesbrough having arrived on a free transfer from Queens Park Rangers. But after starting the opening three games, a serious injury soon kept him out for months.

He returned to the first-team fold after missing a total of 25 games. Having suffered the calf injury in September, his next outing in a Boro shirt wasn’t until February.

Since then he has been one of Middlesbrough’s best players and has formed a strong centre-back partnership with academy graduate Dael Fry, before Fry picked up an injury of his own.

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Neil Warnock admitted that he didn’t expect Hall to make the sort of positive impact he did upon his return, saying that he has well and truly proved him wrong.

“He’s been a blessing, especially when you consider the injuries to [Anfernee] Dijksteel and Fry,” said the Boro boss.

“It’s been a massive plus because I didn’t personally think he’d be able to come back like he has, if I’m totally honest.

“I was worried he’d put a bit of weight on and I couldn’t see enough mobility.

“And yet he’s proven me entirely wrong,” he admitted.

“He’s come back fitness-wise better than I’ve ever seen him and he’s using his experience at the back for us to the point where he’s been a breath of fresh air for us. Apart from his own goal at Millwall that is!

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“His quickness of thought has put him a long way ahead of some of these quick strikers that he’s been playing against. That’s what I’ve been pleased with more than anything.

“I always know he’ll chip in with an odd goal here and there, but his reading of the game has been outstanding.”

Hall will likely keep his place when Middlesbrough take on Rotherham United at the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Wednesday evening. Given the injuries to Fry and to Dijksteel he will presumably play alongside Paddy McNair in the heart of the defence.

The home side are in desperate need of points given they are currently occupying a place in the relegation zone, whereas Middlesbrough’s hopes of achieving a place in the play-offs are mathematically impossible meaning there is nothing to play for other than pride for Warnock’s side. However, they will be hoping to finish the season strongly and in the top half of the table regardless.

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