NEIL WARNOCK remains confident he will guide Middlesbrough to safety in the final five games of the season, but even if he staves off the threat of relegation from the Championship, the much-travelled manager admits the club needs “restructuring” this summer.

Back-to-back defeats to Hull City and QPR have left Boro in the bottom three ahead of tomorrow’s daunting trip to the Den to take on a Millwall side that still have an outside chance of finishing in the play-offs.

After travelling to south London, Boro face Bristol City, Reading, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday in a run-in that will determine their fate, and while he was once again bemoaning his side’s lack of a cutting edge in the wake of Sunday’s defeat to QPR, Warnock is still convinced his new charges will finish outside the bottom three.

However, while remaining in the Championship is clearly the short-term priority, Warnock accepts a summer overhaul will be necessary if Boro are to move onto securer footing in the long term. The club appears to have abandoned the ‘golden thread’ policy that was introduced when Jonathan Woodgate was appointed last summer, and Warnock has hinted that major changes are required.

“I’m sure the players are looking at the table in the newspapers, and they all know how important it is that the club stays in the Championship,” said the Boro boss. “It’s okay saying, ‘You’ll come straight back’, but a lot of big clubs have said that and haven’t come straight back. We’ve just got to keep fighting to get the right results in these last five games.

“From the fans’ (perspective), I would imagine it’s pretty dire for them if I’m honest, looking at the league table. With what’s going off around the country, it’s not a happy time. But I’ve got to put smiles on their faces in the next five games. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ve got to do that by wanting to do it that little bit more and getting the right results. Then, after that, I think the club needs restructuring.”

Warnock’s immediate priority is to arrest a run of two successive defeats and rediscover the form that saw Boro claim a 2-0 win at Stoke in his first game in charge.

The 71-year-old was happy with his players’ general attitude in the last two games, but admits there were moments when a little more decisiveness might have made a big difference. He is keen for his attacking players to be more clinical in the final third, and will be telling all of his players not to be afraid of putting their head in where it hurts.

“As I keep on saying, I can’t fault the effort,” he said. “But we just need that little bit more from everyone. There were a couple of times (against QPR) where we maybe could have gone in to head a final ball, but without naming names, we maybe didn’t quite go in as we should have. You’ve got to put your head on the block here, when things are like this. That’s what we’re going to have to do in the next five games.

“I don’t think it’s the spirit that is an issue – I think they’re working really, really hard. We just need something to drop. It’s alright saying play with freedom, but they’ve somehow got to find a way of doing that despite the situation they’re in. We’ve just got to keep believing we can score the goals we need.”

Djed Spence missed Sunday’s defeat, but the full-back should be available for tomorrow’s meeting with Millwall.

“It would have been nice to have had him (on Sunday),” said Warnock. “It’s no use lying to you about that. There’s not a lot wrong, he’s got a little bit of blood from a dead leg, so I expect him to be available on Wednesday. I’d be surprised if he’s not. You know what he can do for us, and that’s what we missed down that side.”