NEIL WARNOCK expects all of Middlesbrough’s out-of-contract players to leave the club at the end of the season.

The Boro boss is planning for a major summer overhaul, and anticipates having to replace all the players that are due to become free agents in the summer.

Warnock has already indicated that Britt Assombalonga will head elsewhere once his contract expires, and yesterday’s comments mean that Ashley Fletcher and Marvin Johnson are also now expected to leave Teesside.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s future beyond the end of the current campaign is up in the air, with the striker only having signed a short-term contract until June, while Boro’s three loanees – Marcus Bettinelli, Yannick Bolasie and Neeskens Kebano – are all set for an uncertain summer given that their respective contracts with their current employers are due to come to an end. At this stage, there is a good chance that none will be offered a deal at the Riverside.

“I’ve had enough conversations in the past, I don’t need to have any more,” said Warnock, ahead of this afternoon’s game with promotion-chasing Barnsley. “I’ll look at the six games, and then either I’ll make decisions or the players will tell me anyway and we’ll move on.

“Obviously, I’m always looking at players that we can bring in, expecting players that are out of contract to leave. That’s what I expect. If it changes and things are different, then so be it.

“We’ve already been putting plans in place and looking for players who could replace the players who will leave. Striker wise, we’ve probably been looking for 12 months – and we’re still no nearer getting one.”

At one stage, Warnock had indicated that Johnson’s contract contained a clause that the 30-year-old could automatically trigger to extend his stay on Teesside. That is not the case, and it now looks likely that Johnson will join the summer exodus away from the North-East.

“He hasn’t (got a clause),” said Warnock. “I thought there was an option in it, but I don’t think there is one. So, he’s one of those that we’ll have a chat with at the end of the season.”

While Boro still have six more matches to play this term, Warnock has conceded that last weekend’s failure to beat either Bournemouth or Watford has effectively extinguished any hopes of making it into the play-offs.

The Teessiders are nine points adrift of the play-off positions ahead of today’s trip to Oakwell, a gap that Warnock regards as too big to bridge given his side’s inconsistency.

However, while he does not expect to be mounting a promotion charge in the remaining six matches, he will be keeping a close eye on the handful of players he has challenged to prove they merit a place in the squad next season.

“I think one or two players have got to show me desire,” he said. “One or two players, I’ve been disappointed with the stats. I’m not a stats man, but I need to see a lot more effort from certain players, a lot more work rate, if they want to be involved next season. That’s what I’ll be looking at in these six games.”

Warnock will also be using the remaining six matches to blood two or three of the youngsters that have been impressing with the Under-23s. Josh Coburn was an unused substitute in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Watford, and while the Richmond-born 19-year-old will not be involved in today’s first-team squad because Warnock wants him to play in this lunchtime’s FA Youth Cup game with Ipswich Town, he will be handed a senior debut at some stage before the end of the season.

His fellow youngsters, Hayden Hackney and Conor Malley, will train with the first team next week, and could also feature in a Championship game in the next four weeks.

“Josh will get part of a game in the next few weeks,” said Warnock. “I didn’t really want to use him this week – I told him it was a tough week with Bournemouth, Watford and Barnsley. But he will get a shout before the end of the season. I won’t have him on the bench this weekend because I want us to get through in the Youth Cup."