Neil Warnock believes Cardiff City could not have chosen anyone better than Mick McCarthy to take the reins for the back half of the season and believes the Bluebirds can "absolutely" get promoted this season.

McCarthy took over from Warnock's successor Neil Harris in January after a poor first half of the season and the results since then have been nothing short of remarkable.

McCarthy has simplified City's game and tinkered the formation to deploy five at the back. The club have now won their last six games in a row, having drawn the previous two.

And Warnock, adored by all those in the Welsh capital for achieving promotion to the Premier League, is delighted his old pal is thriving in the Welsh capital.

"He was my apprentice at Barnsley," Middlesbrough boss Warnock said ahead of the clash with Cardiff City this weekend.

"He was the same old Mick McCarthy back then. He could play a bit.

"He did my boots for a year - not very well.

"You couldn't have got anybody better at Cardiff, I spoke to him and said 'you've got a great group of lads'.

"It will be interesting seeing those message boards, all those who wanted pure football.

"When we played them last year, when they'd changed their style, I'd never seen so many long throws and free-kicks.

"It doesn't bother Mick.

"When I was at Cardiff he was one of the panels as a pundit on the TV. I was getting criticism about the style, he said that's rubbish, there are no laws or legislation, what's the hassle? He's winning games.

"It's appropriate he's got the group and they're winning every game, especially how he left Ipswich. The grass isn't always greener, they haven't pulled up any trees and neither have Republic of Ireland."

McCarthy penned a short-term deal at Cardiff until the end of the season, however there is scope to extend that should the Bluebirds hierarchy see fit.

Just this week, the former Republic of Ireland manager was linked with the vacant Celtic job, with reports saying the Parkhead club perceive McCarthy to be an attractive prospect following Neil Lennon's resignation.

Many Cardiff fans would like to see McCarthy stay on, especially if this incredible form continues, but should that not be the case, Warnock is not worried about the manager's future.

"Mick will get another job if Cardiff don't want him [in the summer], it's one of those situations, nobody really knows what they want," Warnock said.

"I would imagine Vincent [Tan] is absolutely delighted, whereas before I'm not sure he'd have been his choice.

"You know what you're getting with Mick, he's genuine, honest. You have to be careful what you wish for.

"I keep looking at Arsenal, for two years they wanted Wenger out, you can't tell me they've improved since."

When McCarthy took charge, City were wallowing in 15th place and were far more focused on fighting off the the threat of relegation than climbing into the play-off spots.

However, after the impressive 2-1 win away at Bournemouth in midweek, Cardiff leapfrogged the Cherries into sixth place and there is a quiet optimism now reverberating around the City fan base.

And Warnock, who knows a thing or two about achieving promotion at Cardiff City, is confident they can emulate the class of 2017/18 this season with McCarthy at the helm.

"Absolutely," Warnock said when asked if Cardiff can go up this season. "Who'd want to play them? There's only us who'd want to play them and we might not be in them [the play-offs].

"Why would you want to play Cardiff and get battered and kicked and tormented?"

McCarthy himself is looking forward to pitting his wits against Warnock this weekend. However, he knows that for 90 minutes that friendship will be put to one side.

And, after Boro's defeat by Bristol City in midweek, he is expecting a reaction.

“He is a good mate of mine, Warny," McCarthy said. "Obviously for 90 minutes on Saturday he won’t be and it will be the same feeling for him.

“He’s always been bright and innovative in the way he plays.

“If we come off on Saturday and I say to him ‘that was a nice game Neil, you’re really pleasant to play against’, I think he’d be as off as I would be.

“That’s not going to be the case.

“We have to recover, travel and get up there, and I know we’ll be expecting a really tough game because they got beaten by Bristol City so they will be wanting reaction.”