NEIL WARNOCK is confident the Middlesbrough players who have signed short-term contract extensions will “play their hearts out” in the final seven games of the season – and is hoping to resolve any outstanding issues about long-term contracts later this week.

As well as Jonny Howson triggering a one-year extension that commits him to the Riverside until 2021, George Friend, Ryan Shotton, Adam Clayton and Marvin Johnson all signed short-term waivers earlier this week that enable them to see out the remainder of the season.

Their attitude stands in marked contrast to that displayed by Daniel Ayala and Rudy Gestede, who officially leave Middlesbrough tomorrow after refusing to play beyond the end of June, and Warnock is delighted to have received such a strong show of faith from a group of such senior players.

He said: “They’ve signed short-term, and I’m confident they’ll play their hearts out. When Rudy told me what he did, then no disrespect, but you’ve got to have people in the trenches with you in this situation.

“We’re aren’t out of trouble by any means, and there are some big clubs in that next division down. When somebody says, ‘I’m not sure’, you can’t have it, can you? I’d rather go with the lads we’ve got.”

At this stage, it remains uncertain whether Friend, Shotton, Clayton and Johnson will be remaining beyond the end of the current campaign, but Warnock is hoping to be able to provide some further clarity on the situation by the end of the week.

He said: “I’ve been speaking to Neil (Bausor), behind the scenes, about the lads that are out of contract, so I will be talking to them again this week.

“They’re all committed anyhow, at the moment, but what I’m going to do is catch up with them all again later in the week and tell them how important it is.

“At the moment, I’m not going to be making any decisions myself, the main priority is, ‘Let’s stay where we are. Let’s make sure we stay in the Championship’.”

Boro could take another huge step towards securing Championship safety when they travel to fellow strugglers Hull City on Thursday.

Hayden Coulson will be available for the trip to the KCOM Stadium, having recovered from the injury that kept him out of Saturday’s 2-0 win at Stoke.

Warnock said: “Hayden should be okay. He’s trained today and trained well, so that’s obviously good news.”