WITH the details of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s drugs ban having been released on Friday, Neil Warnock has defended his decision to give the deadline-day signing another chance with Middlesbrough.

Boro signed Mendez-Laing as a free agent following his release from Cardiff City shortly before the start of the season. At the time, the Bluebirds simply said the winger had been dismissed because of a “disciplinary matter”, but it has subsequently emerged that he was forced to serve a three-month ban after testing positive for cocaine.

An FA statement released on Friday confirmed Mendez-Laing had produced a positive sample in July and revealed the 28-year-old had accepted the charge. Upon its publication, Mendez-Laing issued a statement of his own admitting his guilt and expressing regret for his actions.

Warnock was aware of the full details of the case when he offered the forward a deal to the end of the season, and is adamant Mendez-Laing deserves an opportunity to rebuild his career.

“I think his statement said it all – he’s sorry for what he’s done and he just has to put it to bed now,” said Warnock, after Mendez-Laing made his Middlesbrough debut as a 65th-minute substitute in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Derby. It just shows the problems these young lads have really, when they earn nothing to becoming Premier League players.

“He was offered a few clubs, but I think he needs me at this moment in time. I brought him from Rochdale. “He’s a lovely lad, but he’s made mistakes and he’s aware of that.”

Warnock will be keeping a close eye on Mendez-Laing’s behaviour in the next few weeks, and is adamant he will be adopting a zero-tolerance approach if there is any suggestion of him overstepping the line again.

“He knows how I feel about it all,” he said. “He’s living 50 yards from me, he has to drive past my house on a morning. I watch him all the time, so he won’t get away with anything.”

Having proved his wellbeing at the weekend, Mendez-Laing is in contention for a first Boro start as Warnock’s side look to get their nosediving season back on track when they host Huddersfield Town tomorrow.

His fellow new arrival, Yannick Bolasie, will not be involved though, and the Everton loanee is set for an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury in training on Thursday.

“Yannick strained a hamstring with the last kick of the training session,” said Warnock. “I don’t know really quite how serious it is. I think he’s had a scan, but to be fair, I haven’t asked. I just know he’s out for a while.”