Neil Warnock says Dael Fry and Marcus Tavernier have been back in light training this week, but the Boro boss will closely monitor their progress before involving them in his team.

Fry missed last weekend’s defeat to Brentford with a calf issue, which Warnock believes may have been in part due to missing training after he took a kick to his eye against Blackburn, while Tavernier has also been out since the loss to Tony Mowbray’s side.

“You do feel a little bit down as a manager when some of your so-called best players are missing,” he said. 

“It never seems to be the fringe players who pick up knocks!

“They’ve done some light training this week, the pair of them, but I’ve not seen them yet today.

“I’m not aware of an upsurge in fitness which makes me buoyant about playing them tomorrow. Dael is likely to tell me that he wants to play, but we will have to see.

“Tav will be good to have back in the next few weeks. We have missed his energy and enthusiasm.”

Meanwhile, Warnock is pleased to see his new signings bedding in well, and more attacking options. 

“Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has looked good this week, so has Neeskens Kebano," he said.

”It will be interesting to see how far they come, and if I can give Mendez 20-30 minutes somewhere because he was a little bit behind the others. We’ve got a tough run of games going up and it will be good to have him up to speed.

“He looked very good in training, but on a full pitch and at full pace it’s a whole different ball game."

Warnock watched on as a number of his first team players got through 90 minutes for our Under-23s last weekend.

"It was important to give them that," he said.

“Ashley Fletcher is not far away, too, he did 10km in the game on Sunday. He’ll come into it in the next few weeks, I’m sure, and Grant Hall will be available for selection, but you want your fittest lads on the pitch.

“It’s a balancing act all the time.

"It's tempting to throw players in but you have to be so careful."

The Boro manager says such fitness concerns are heightened by a unique schedule.

“I think there’s problems we’ve not seen before,” he said.

“The problems you’re seeing, you’re seeing up and down the country and I have no doubt we will pick up more injuries.

“With so many games and so little in-between time, we’re learning as we go along. But everyone is the same at this level.

“When we have our best team out I think we’re a match for anyone. 

“I’m just optimistic we can go on a run again, and to do that we need to get the best out of players who come in.”