Veteran boss Neil Warnock will be aiming to dish out a lesson to dug-out rookie Wayne Rooney when Middlesbrough go to Derby County (KO 3pm, Saturday).

Wily Warnock has been in management for over 40 years and has won eight promotions in that time while former England and Manchester United legend Rooney, 35, is just getting to grips with the job.

The player-coach was confirmed as Derby boss last month after the exit of Philip Cocu as the Rams flirted with relegation. Rooney opted to hang up his boots to concentrate on management after being handed the job.

Ironically, his last outing as a player was in the 3-0 defeat to Boro at the Riverside in late November.

Rooney is learning fast and has engineered an upturn for the struggling Rams and before a 3-0 defeat to Rotherham last time out he had overseen three wins on the bounce.

But Warnock aims to provide a tough learning experience for the dugout newbie.

“He’ll remember the lessons of these early days if he goes on to make a career out of management,” said the Boro boss. “The things you learn and the mistakes you make in your first job are important.

“But I think it is marvelous that there are hungry young English managers coming through. He was a fabulous player and after he could have done anything after he finished but he has chosen this. I admire that.

“He doesn’t need the money. And it is a risk to his reputation so all credit to him for giving it a go.”

Warnock will be aiming to arrest a slide for Boro who have lost three of the last few – but he will be encouraged by recent displays.

Boro battled well and may have won in a 0-0 draw at then table-toppers Norwich then had a real go and had some glorious chances in a clash with new leaders Brentford before going down 4-1.

Despite the wobble, results elsewhere have fallen kindly for Boro who remain in seventh place and just five points off the play off spots and victory at Derby would keep the pressure on.

But the boss does have a few injury head-aches with key defender Dael Fry and midfield livewire Marcus Tavernier still struggling. The pair have returned to training this week but are still considered doubts.

“You do feel a little bit down as a manager when some of your so-called best players are missing,” said Warnock. “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’m not aware of an upsurge in fitness which makes me buoyant about playing. 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.”

Warnock blooded some of his new transfer window recruits in the ‘free hit’ games against the top two and both Yannick Bolasie and Neeskens Kabano are right in the mix.

And he may be tempted to throw in wideman Nathaniel Mendez Laing against Derby too, despite him not playing since leaving Cardiff six months ago.

“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.”

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