NEIL WARNOCK is delighted to have tied down Anfernee Dijksteel to a new long-term deal as he expects to be receiving offers for the Middlesbrough defender from ‘a number of clubs’ next summer.

Dijksteel signed a new four-and-a-half year deal at the start of this week, underlining the extent of his progress since Warnock was appointed as manager in the summer.

The 24-year-old struggled to make much of an impression in his first season on Teesside after moving from Charlton Athletic, but his fortunes have been completely transformed under Warnock, to the extent where his manager is anticipating a flurry of interest come the end of the campaign.

“If he can continue in the same form and the way he’s playing, with the presence that he has, then come the end of the season, I’d imagine there’ll be a quite a few clubs looking at him,” said Warnock, ahead of today’s game with Norwich City.

“Dijjksteel has improved really well and gets better by the game. It’ll be interesting to see whether he can continue that, but there’s no reason why he can’t. We’ve just got to hope that he does.”

When he was first appointed, Warnock criticised the logic of having so many players coming towards the end of their contracts at the same time, and his attempts to guide Boro to safety in the final weeks of last season were hampered by the likes of Daniel Ayala, Ryan Shotton and Rudy Gestede opting not to play.

He clearly wants to avoid a similar scenario unfolding in the future, whether on his watch or under the control of someone else, and after agreeing deals with Dijksteel and Djed Spence in the last couple of months, will be sitting down with those above him in the next few days to discuss the contractual position of some of his other first-team players.

“We’ll be looking at one or two players over the next few weeks,” said Warnock. “I’m looking at it longer term, whether I’m here or not, the club has to have plans in place. It’s not just the young players – there’s a mixture of people that I would like to tie up at the club. We’re going to be looking at that aspect of the club in close detail in the next few weeks.”

As well as issuing Dijksteel with a new deal, Boro also used the international break to sign former Sunderland winger Duncam Watmore on a short-term contract to mid-January.

“He’s been a refreshing new face around the place,” said Warnock, who will be without Marcus Browne for a couple of weeks after the winger suffered a hamstring injury. “He’s quick and direct, and he’s fitted in really well.

“He had some good offers, but he wanted to give it a go here. Okay, it’s only a short-term contract, but he doesn’t have to do much to impress me if he carries on.”

Middlesbrough (probable, 3-4-3): Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair; Spence, Howson, Saville, Bola; Tavernier, Assombalonga, Coulson.