THEY won’t be winning promotion and, unlike last season, they are comfortably clear of the relegation zone, so when it comes to the final few games of Middlesbrough’s season, one of the few live issues is the attempt to get a sense of what Neil Warnock is thinking ahead of next term.

Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher might be gone, but does the fact that Jordan Archer and Marvin Johnson are still featuring in the starting line-up suggest they could be remaining on Teesside for at least another season, even though they are currently due to become free agents next month?

If so, then their prospects of securing a new deal can only have been enhanced by their performances at Kenilworth Road. Johnson, back in the attacking-midfield role he filled for much of the first half of the season, crossed for Duncan Watmore’s equaliser. Archer, who has dislodged Marcus Bettinelli from the starting line-up in recent weeks, saved a penalty from James Collins after the break.

On the other side of the coin, Chuba Akpom, contracted to the Riverside until the summer of 2023, was nowhere to be seen, with Warnock instead preferring to name 18-year-old Josh Coburn on the bench. If Akpom cannot force his way into the squad when he is effectively the only senior striker on the books, that does not say much for his prospects of being a key performer next season.

“I decided to go with the kids,” said Warnock, who brought on Coburn for his third Boro appearance with seven minutes remaining. “I was only going to put one striker on and it would be Josh, so I didn’t want to waste Chuba’s time.

“If Chuba came down and sat on that bench and didn’t get on…I think he’ll be quite pleased (he was able to remain in the North-East).”

On a day when neither side had anything of substance to play for, Glen Rea gave Luton a lead that proved short-lived when Watmore immediately levelled.

Boro started brightly, with Grant Hall denied by an important block from Hatters skipper Sonny Bradley, only for Luton to score in the 19th minute. A corner from the left was met by Kai Naismith, whose header was clawed on to the bar by Archer, only for the lurking Rea to head home.

Boro were only behind for two minutes as a cross from Johnson saw Watmore left unmarked to head past Simon Sluga via a Naismith deflection.

With 35 minutes gone, Luton threatened again, James Collins’ acrobatic volley not testing Archer as it flew over the top.

In the second period, Collins diverted his header wide from Bree’s dangerous free-kick from the right.

Boro looked to respond, on-loan Everton winger Yannick Bolasie getting on the outside of Matty Pearson and whistling over on his left foot.

Pearson bravely managed to block George Saville’s fierce effort from inside the box, before Luton were awarded a 71st-minute penalty when Paddy McNair was adjudged to have fouled Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Collin stepped up, but his weak attempt was easily parried by Archer. From the resultant corner, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu couldn’t keep his cool, blasting well over when the ball dropped to him ten yards out.

Boro had a decent opportunity to move in front themselves with 78 minutes gone, Bola’s whipped delivery from the left met by Bolasie, who was unable to keep his header down.

With four minutes left, the woodwork denied Middlesbrough a potential winner as Saville’s close-range shot cannoned off home skipper Bradley and hit the underside of the crossbar.