NEIL WARNOCK will discuss his managerial plans with Steve Gibson at the end of the season – but the Middlesbrough boss has already started to put some long-term plans in place and held a lengthy meeting with the club’s recruitment team this week to discuss summer targets.

When Warnock was appointed as Jonathan Woodgate’s successor last month, he agreed to take charge until the end of the current campaign. He claims he did even sign a contract, such was his trust in Gibson, but if Middlesbrough remain in the Championship, it is anticipated he will be offered the opportunity to stay in charge next season.

That scenario will not be discussed until Boro’s fate is known, but the likelihood of Warnock remaining increased this week when he chaired a two-hour meeting to outline where he feels the club’s transfer resources need to be concentrated this summer.

The 71-year-old is also understood to be involved in the planning for the build-up to the 2020-21 season, suggesting he is seriously contemplating remaining in charge.

“Steve and I have known each other a long time,” said Warnock, ahead of today’s crucial home game with Bristol City. “What I said to Steve is, ‘Let’s discuss that at the end of the season’. A, I might not want to stay. But B, he might not want me to stay either.

“There’s no contract, we’ve not even discussed money or anything like that, but what I can do at the moment is try to advise the club. You can’t ignore next season or not pay any attention to things you need to do in the future. We had a meeting yesterday with the two heads of recruitment and that took a couple of hours because we had to give our input.

“I think managers are important when it comes to giving their input about what you’re looking for, what positions you’re looking for and what type of players you want. I know different managers have different types and things like that, but if possible, I would like to think I could help the club in the next few weeks regarding that type of planning.”

Having presided over four matches, Warnock is starting to get a handle on the strengths and weaknesses of the squad he has inherited. A lack of balance is one of his biggest concerns, along with an absence of ‘natural defenders’ that will clearly be a key priority if he remains this summer.

“When you’re looking for a type of player, if you want a defender, you want a defender,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any rocket science if I’m honest. I think we’ve got a lot of forward-looking defenders, but not many defending defenders.

“Whether I’m here or not, you tell your recruitment team that the club’s got to have some defenders for next season. There has to be a priority in those positions. It doesn’t really matter who’s in charge, you’ve still got to be looking for the players.

“I’ve given my advice on what I felt the club needed, and then the two chaps are going to come up with some names. We discussed quite a few yesterday on the English market and in Europe. It’s getting the right ones really.”

Last week, Warnock was stating that the club needed a “restructure” in the summer, but he has sought to clarify that comment slightly by stressing he was referring to the make-up of the squad rather than any more radical shake-up of Boro’s executive structures.

“I probably used the wrong word really,” he said. “We have so many of the same type of players, so I think you’ve got to look at the squad and try to restructure it so that you cater for every avenue. You need a more balanced squad.

“I don’t mean the club as a whole. Crikey, the club is unbelievable off the field. Neil Bausor (chief executive) does a fantastic job. They’ve got everything here. It’s just the squad I meant when I used that word.”