SOL BAMBA and Jamie Paterson will remain with Middlesbrough this week, with Neil Warnock admitting the out-of-contract duo could yet earn permanent deals on Teesside.
Bamba, who announced he was cancer-free earlier this year after battling against Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, has spent most of the summer training with Boro following his release from Cardiff City.
He trained with the Under-23s while the first team was in Devon and Cornwall last week, but made his first appearance for the senior side as a second-half substitute in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at York City.
Warnock has consistently claimed that Bamba, a long-term associate from the pair’s time together at Cardiff, is simply training with Boro to get himself fit. However, his stance over the likelihood of the 36-year-old earning a permanent deal appears to be shifting, with Bamba’s extensive experience and off-field influence potentially playing a major role in any future decision.
“You only have to look at the size of our squad, we are really small,” said Warnock, when asked whether Bamba was in the running for a contract. “He just wants to get fit, so I’ve just said come and get fit.
“He’s really enjoyed it with the 23s, he was really good to have around the youngsters, they learn so much from him. Lidds (Craig Liddle) said to me it was amazing listening to him with the young lads last week when we were in Cornwall. That’s how he is.
“He enjoys his football and that’s the way he’s always been. I’m sure he’ll get a contract somewhere with the fitness he’s shown.
“I asked him if he wanted half an hour (at York) and he said he'd love to. He knows I'll look after him, he's been great for me over the years.”
Paterson, who left Bristol City at the end of last season, joined Boro’s first-team group in the South-West, only to immediately roll his ankle and miss a couple of days’ training. He made his first appearance in last Friday’s win over Plymouth, and played in the first half of this week’s game at York.
“He asked to come in and we wanted to look at him in certain areas,” said Warnock. “But (on Tuesday), I wanted to get Isaiah (Jones) on in the second half to give us a bit more pace going forward.
“I wanted the other lads to get the minutes in. But he’s done well, and he’ll probably be involved on Friday (in Boro's final pre-season game at Rotherham) as well.”