NEIL WARNOCK claims the mood around the Middlesbrough squad has changed markedly since Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher were both released.

Warnock met the duo last Tuesday and told them their services were no longer required at the training ground ahead of their formal departure as free agents in the summer. The pair are no longer reporting for training, and are not being considered for the matchday squad.

Since their exit was agreed, Boro have recorded back-to-back wins over Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday, and having bemoaned the existence of “cliques” and hinted at growing splits in the camp, Warnock is delighted at the way in which the prevailing atmosphere at Rockliffe Park has been transformed in the last few days.

“I had to make some really difficult decisions in this last couple of weeks, and I’m really pleased I did now,” said the Boro boss. “I think it’s like a breath of fresh air, I’m really pleased. There’s definitely been a change in the mood around the place. Even the music’s great now!”

While Assombalonga and Fletcher have both left, Marvin Johnson has started the last two matches despite his current contract also being due to expire in the summer. Talks with the 30-year-old and his representatives remain ongoing, and it is understood Warnock would be keen to extend Johnson’s stay if a deal can be agreed.

The Boro boss has also confirmed he would like to retain Yannick Bolasie, whose loan from Everton expires in two games’ time. With Bolasie’s Everton deal coming to an end in June, the 31-year-old will be available as a free agent. He would have to agree a significant wage cut to sign a permanent deal with Middlesbrough, but Warnock will attempt to persuade him to reject more lucrative deals from abroad in order to remain on Teesside.

The future of goalkeeper Jordan Archer remains up in the air, although the Scot’s performances in the last three matches have strengthened his hand as Warnock ponders his next move.

Archer only signed a short-term deal to the end of the season when he joined in January, but with loanee Marcus Bettinelli unlikely to be retained following his demotion to the bench, there is a chance he could be offered a deal for another season.