Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has suggested that forward Nathaniel Mendez-Laing does not have anything to prove to him over the last ten games of the season and he will wait before deciding on his future.
Mendez-Laing arrived at Middlesbrough on a temporary basis until the end of the campaign during the January transfer window following his contract being terminated by Cardiff City back in September. Warnock is a fan of the 28-year-old’s qualities, and he was keen to give him a chance to get his career back on track at the Riverside in the second half of the campaign.
The forward repaid the manager’s faith on Saturday by getting on the score sheet for the first time for Boro coming off the bench to score a well taken third for Middlesbrough as they secured an impressive 3-0 win against Stoke City. That win kept faint play-off hopes alive and showed some of what Mendez-Laing can do for them.
Speaking to Teesside Live, Warnock insisted that Mendez-Laing does not really have to prove his quality to him as he already well aware his capabilities. While he also hinted that decisions on his future would be made nearer towards the end of the campaign with the Middlesbrough manager having only just sorted out his own future.
He said: There’s a long way to go yet, he knows that. I’ve only just sorted myself out!
“He knows he doesn’t have to prove anything to me. I know what he can do. He just has to work hard to get fit.
“Sometimes when he’s come on he’s tried too hard and there’s no need to do that.
“He’s a worker as well. He works back.
“He’s really working his socks off every minute of the day and even on his day off he’s in working hard.
“So it’s great for him as he’s not had much of a look-in, just 15 minutes here and there, and you could see that if he gets up to scratch he will get some goals.”
This update from Warnock does suggest that he is considering offering Mendez-Laing a more permanent deal at least at the end of the campaign, and the forward needs to take confidence from his goal against Stoke into the last ten matches of the campaign a look to prove that he should be kept on at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough have lacked enough of a goal threat at times this season, Mendez-Laing is a player that can get goals when he is at his best as well as create them. He fired in six goals and five assists in Cardiff’s promotion campaign under Warnock in the 2017/18 season (Sofascore). That shows the type of qualities he could bring to the table for Boro.
Warnock is very good at getting the best out of certain players and Mendez-Laing appears to be one of those examples. If the 28-year-old continues to make an impact between now and the end of the season, then you feel he has to be worthy of a new deal with the club. That would allow the club to then move on to other targets to bring in.