NEIL WARNOCK will not care too much if Middlesbrough finish outside the Championship’s top half provided he can “solve the problem” that he needs to eradicate over the course of the summer.

The Boro boss was in no mood to skirt around his words after watching his side lose for the fourth time in five winless matches against Queens Park Rangers, claiming he is facing his “biggest challenge”.

What had previously looked like a bit of fine tuning now looks far greater as he looks to mould a group of players capable of doing better next season.

With eight of his first-team squad, including three loans, out of contract this summer, Warnock already has decisions to either keep or replace them.

And while the likes of Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher seem certain to depart, Warnock will also be looking to move others on to help him rebuild.

The Middlesbrough manager has made it clear what he wants – and that is a united dressing room capable of eradicating the inconsistencies that have blighted the second half of this campaign.

He said: “We have to get ready for July. It can’t come quick enough really. There are a lot of things I don’t understand. You get that at clubs. You get little cliques at clubs. As a manager you know they are there.

“I am sure if you spoke to two or three they will say I was the problem. Because they blame everyone else don’t they? That’s natural for footballers. I am not the problem. I have to solve the problem.”

Repeatedly, after QPR left with the points courtesy of the two first-half goals inside three minutes scored by Rob Dickie and Lee Wallace, Warnock claimed certain players don’t want to be at Middlesbrough.

Asked whether he has known who those players are for a while, he replied: “Not really, no, some of them, yes. Three or four lads who don’t want to be here, it’s typical because we don’t have a squad size to cater for that really. I know what I would like to tell them, I have to bite my tongue and get these games over the line.

“I have told the players like Grant Hall, Jonny Howson, Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore…that they will enjoy next season when I have sorted it all out because we want people like that who want to be here. That is what we want.”

Dickie’s opening goal arrived inside quarter of an hour when the centre-back was afforded far too much space to fire in from 30 yards after QPR’s positive start.

Three minutes later, goalkeeper Jordan Archer, making his first league start since arriving from Motherwell in January, was beaten again when Lyndon Dykes’ cross was nodded in by an unmarked Wallace.

After that, Middlesbrough finished the first half stronger. Yannick Bolasie and Neeskens Kebano, two of those on loan, combined for the former to head into the top corner on 28 minutes.

Bolasie should have levelled things before half-time when Watmore’s pass left the forward with just the goalkeeper to beat. Seny Dieng managed to get a foot to it and QPR stayed in front, even though the stopper suffered a broken nose in the process.

After the break, Dieng was red carded with 32 minutes left for rushing out of goal and wiping out Watmore, but Middlesbrough couldn’t find a way through to equalise. Deputy goalkeeper Joe Lumley made two outstanding stops to deny George Saville in the closing stages.

The defeat leaves Middlesbrough 11th and in real danger of finishing in the bottom half of the table having spent so much of the season in contention for a top-six spot.

“Yannick and Kebano did alright,” said Warnock. “Yannick should have scored two or three. Other than that, I am disappointed with two or three things at the club. That’s why I am manager.

“It’s not that important (to finish top half), it’s more important that I get the people out who I want to get rid of. It shows you what a good job we have done really. To be disappointed not to have got in the play-offs shows how well we have done.

“I bet there are plenty who think this job is easy. It is not an easy job. It is probably going to be my biggest challenge to get success from where I am. I think it’s doable. I just have to work really hard, have a bit of luck with recruitment.”

Warnock suggested he had got some answers from the performance and, despite surprisingly bringing on Assombalonga in the closing stages, he is ready to mix his team up for the final four matches with Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday, Luton and Wycombe.

“You have to surmise yourself really,” said Warnock. “Over the next few weeks I think you will see a large change in the squad.”

He added: “You can see we have a nucleus of good players, unfortunately we missed the lads we have missing, we have to bring players in so that when we do lose certain players we have good ones to replace them. We are ticking over, doing alright. Not too dissimilar to when I came. There are players who don’t want to be here and we want to help them on their way.”