Neil Warnock has sent a public message to Middlesbrough forward, Duncan Watmore, claiming he would be stupid not to extend his contract. 

Watmore, who has blossomed since joining Boro, signed a short-term deal that is due to expire in January.

The 26-year-old has been in fine form for Boro, scoring four and assisting one in just five league starts.

Naturally, this has attracted attention from fellow Championship side looking for bargain buys in a frantic January window.

But Neil Warnock is adamant that he wants Warnock to stay, despite league leaders Norwich sniffing around.

Watmore joined Middlesbrough following a seven-year spell at Sunderland that initially began well, but was then marred by a series of horrific injuries.

He tore the ACL in his left knee back in 2016 when Sunderland were in the Premier League. This left him out for the season and by the time he returned, Sunderland were relegated.

He returned midway through the 2017/18 season but, tragically, six games into his return, Watmore tore the ACL in his right knee.

Once again, he was out for the season. Once again, Sunderland were relegated.

When his Sunderland contract ended, Middlesbrough took a chance. Watmore has certainly repaid that faith with some big performances, including two goals in the 3-0 win over Millwall this month.

Warnock, speaking to TeesideLive, said he would not stand in Watmore’s way of a move, given his injury hell, but thinks he would be stupid to leave. 

“Listen, if he wanted to go to Norwich then I wouldn’t stand in his way, not after the injuries he’s had,” Warnock admitted.

“But I will say, if he did go to Norwich, it will be the biggest mistake he ever makes.

“That’s all I can say on that. It doesn’t worry me, players turning me down. I just think it’s their loss.

“I’m happy with everything and I think Neil [Bausor] has been talking to his man for about a week but I’ve never heard anything about Norwich.

“I think he’d be stupid to leave this club, team and myself.

“This season for him shouldn’t be about money. It should be about him playing games after his injuries. He fits in so well with us and he’s a lovely lad.”

Watmore’s short-term deal runs out in January and, with Middlesbrough hunting down a place in the play-offs, they cannot afford to lose in-form players to league rivals for free.