NEIL WARNOCK admits Duncan Watmore’s contract situation is “a worry”, with the forward still to commit his future to Middlesbrough beyond the middle of next month.

Watmore scored his fifth goal in the space of eight games as Boro suffered a 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday last night.

The former Sunderland forward signed a short-term deal to the middle of January when he joined Boro as a free agent, and has been offered a contract extension.

However, the new deal remains unsigned, and while Warnock remains hopeful Watmore will put pen to paper soon, mounting suggestions of possible Premier League interest in the 26-year-old are causing understandable concern.

“He’s enjoying it,” said the Middlesbrough manager. “I hope he stays, and obviously we’re talking to him all the time. I think you can see he’s enjoying it – he didn’t want to come off today, so I‘ve left him on.

“Of course you worry when you’re in a situation like this (with his contract), but life’s too short to get too concerned. All you can do is try to do what you want to do, and if it doesn’t come off, then you have to go elsewhere.”

Watmore’s goal threatened to set up a Boro comeback after Sheffield Wednesday scored first-half goals through Callum Paterson and Liam Shaw.

However, while Boro created plenty of promising openings in the second half, they were unable to seriously test Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood with Marvin Johnson drilling a shot against the post and Marcus Tavernier failing to find the target from the edge of the area. As a result, the Teessiders’ uncharacteristic defensive errors before the break proved decisive, with Paterson and Shaw scoring their goals within the space of nine minutes shortly before the interval.

“It’s not very often they make mistakes like that,” said Warnock. “I won’t name names, but they know. At half-time, you don’t have to tell them, they know they’ve made a mistake. But I think that’s probably the first one this season where the centre-backs have made a mistake.

“We had chances, although it was a difficult pitch to play on. In the circumstances, I thought we kept the ball and played it well, and tried to be patient to get the opportunities. We just couldn’t take them. We won three on the trot and everybody was raving about it, but it’s fine margins really.”

Sheffield Wednesday were under the caretaker control of Neil Thompson after Tony Pulis was unexpectedly dismissed on Monday night, and Warnock felt the managerial upheaval did not work in his side’s favour.

“I don’t think it helped,” he said. “I think there were a few players out there that Tony probably wished they had played like that when he was here. That’s how it is, but that’s not cost us the game. The two goals have cost us the game, whoever is in charge.”