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Neil Warnock still on the hunt for strikers despite four-goal showing

Middlesbrough v Shrewsbury Town – Carabao Cup – First Round – Riverside Stadium
(Image credit: Richard Sellers)

Neil Warnock was delighted to see his Middlesbrough side hit their goalscoring stride in the opening game of the season – but the Boro boss still wants to sign another couple of forwards before the transfer window closes.

Middlesbrough scored four goals in a game for the first time since January 2019 as they edged a seven-goal thriller with Shrewsbury 4-3 to reach the second round of the Carabao Cup.

Ashley Fletcher scored twice at the Riverside, with strike partner Britt Assombalonga also impressing as Boro booked a place in Sunday’s second-round draw.

With Rudy Gestede having left as a free agent in the summer, Warnock is keen to bolster his forward line before the transfer window closes, but after his players struggled in the final third for most of last season, he is confident the goals will flow more freely this term.

Warnock said: “We’ve got to score more goals. I hate the thought of being the lowest scorers in the league – I like excitement, and I like crosses and shots and headers. We could even have had one or two more tonight, but scoring four is very, very good at such an early stage of the season.

“The strikers have really put a shift in. Ashley deserved his two goals and I thought he was the pick of the crop, but they share it out. Britt did a lot of work and together they look good. But we are looking at other players to come in to help out because they can’t do that week in, week out.”

Similarly, Boro will not be able to defend as they did when they come up against Sky Bet Championship opposition, but Warnock did not want to be too critical of his side given that he had openly admitted he was treating the Carabao Cup match as his side’s final pre-season game.

He said: “It was certainly open. I said to the lads it was the end of pre-season today. I’m not going to tell them off. I wanted them to get as much running in as they could, and we didn’t really work on shutting this down or shutting that down.

“We just said, ‘Let’s have a go’, and as has been the case in pre-season, we played some good stuff. Discipline wise, I don’t think we can play like that next week against Watford, they’ll get double figures. But we’ll be more disciplined next week.”

Sam Ricketts was similarly willing to forgive his Shrewsbury side’s failings and concentrate on the positive aspects of their display.

Ricketts said: “It’s a strange one having a cup tie before the first league game of the season. This would normally be our last friendly game. But as a spectacle I think it was very entertaining, although we’ve come out on the wrong side of it.

“But the main thing for me was we’ve asked the players to change and think differently, with a different mentality in how we want to play. And you can see the early stages of them buying into it. Can we do it? You’ve seen that we can.”