Neil Warnock is facing a selection headache ahead of what he expects to be a ‘real battle’ against Rotherham (Weds, KO 7pm).
The Boro boss watched in horror as key defender Dael Fry took a whack to the face early in Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn and insult was added to injury as calls for a red card and what may have been a pivotal penalty were waved away.
Then in the second half he lost live-wire wideman Marcus Tavernier too, who slipped in a tussle and limped off injured.
“It’s the inside of his knee,” said Warnock. “I think he had a scan last night, and they’ll tell me later today probably what the verdict is but I don’t expect we’ll see him for a few weeks.”
The news regarding Fry is more positive, with the defender having suffered no long-lasting damage from the flyinging boot of Rovers defender Jarrad Branthwaite.
The Berwick Hills battler is recovering quickly but won’t be available for the clash with Rotherham, rescheduled after being postponed on Boxing Day after a Covid crisis for the Millers.
Warnock said: “He’s got the stitches in, but he feels a lot better in himself. The swelling is going down. It’s definitely going down, but we won’t risk him if there’s a doubt.
“It wasn’t nice – but he’s a bit, strong lad. I don’t know what else I can say about it, to be honest.”
Warnock also has doubts over right-back Anfernee Dijksteel, who missed out on Sunday with an injury, and his team has some gaps.
Warnock remains a hero at Rotherham after arriving midway through the season to pull off an incredible Great Escape and keep them in the Championship in 2016. He later left for Cardiff but knows many of the players and staff – and their style.
“They all give 100%. They will all battle. They will all tackle. They will all work. It will be a really difficult game for us,” he said.
“There will be throw-ins and free-kicks coming in from every angle so it will be difficult and we will have to work hard and match that.
“They play the same way in every game, they get at you, get in your face so we will have to match that and deal with it.”
Boro have now gone seven games without a clean sheet, which will ring alarm bells for Warnock after starting the season with one of the meanest defences in the division and in the country.
“Yes, it is a concern,” he admitted. “At the moment there are gaps but we just have to get on with it.”
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