NEIL WARNOCK has mapped out each day of Middlesbrough’s pre-season programme, and is confident his players will return to Rockliffe Park at the end of next month having kept their fitness at an acceptable level.

Warnock completed his individual post-season debriefs with his players yesterday, and is set to leave for a break at his family home in the South-West before the end of the week.

Boro’s retained players have also left Rockliffe, and are not due to link back up as a full group until the start of pre-season training on July 1.

“Pre-season is fully planned now,” said Warnock, who has already announced a week’s tour of Devon and Cornwall for mid-July that will encompass matches against Saltash United, Tavistock AFC and Plymouth Argyle. “We have a dossier where for every day of pre-season, from 10.30am onwards, every session of every day is planned.

“Now okay, I’ll deviate from that from time to time - especially when we’re running. If I don’t think they’ve done enough, I’ll put another one in, even if they say, ‘We’ve done enough gaffer’. I’ll say, ‘No you haven’t’.

“So, I can change the plan slightly with whatever I think, but in general, it’s all mapped out now right up until our first game in the league.”

In days gone by, the end of the season would have signalled the start of a summer blowout, with players heading abroad to eat and drink to excess.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic clearly limit the options available to the members of Boro’s first-team squad, but even if they had been able to head overseas without any restrictions, Warnock would not have been concerned at their behaviour over the next couple of months.

Levels of professionalism have risen right across football, and if anything, the Boro boss is more worried about his players over-training and not having a proper break this summer than them downing tools completely and returning for the start of pre-season training a stone or two overweight.

“Nowadays it’s not like it used to be,” said Warnock. “I used to go to Tossa De Mar (in Spain) and that was it for me - nightclubs and bars. I’d come back a week before I started and try to get rid of it all. Those days are gone – these lads we’ve got now are so fit anyway.”

Boro’s fitness and sports science experts have issued each player with an individually-tailored fitness programme for the next few weeks, and will be monitoring GPS data to ensure their plans are being adhered to.

Some players will be instructed to have a period of complete rest before gradually building back up their training regime, but others, such as Anfernee Dijkstel, Dael Fry, Marcus Tavernier and Sam Morsy, who missed the final few weeks of the season through injury, will be expected to complete their rehabilitation programmes before starting their break.

“It’s quite a long break this time,” said Warnock. “We only had three weeks last summer. This time, they’ve got three weeks holiday and then everything is geared where they have a choice of coming in certain days for two to three days a week in certain weeks.

“Then, they have a programme where they’re all in a week before we properly start to see where they’re at.

“They all go away with this GPS monitor so we can tell what they’ve done when they’re away. But we’re talking about a group where there isn’t a bad egg amongst them really.

“They’ll all be working hard because they all want to get into the team and be successful. You don’t have to worry about these lads. I just have to make sure that, when they come back, we have that week with the sports scientists to gradually ease them back in before the first proper week where I will hammer them. That’s July 1.”

Meanwhile, Boro have completed the signing of youngster Josh Wells, who will join their academy. The 18-year-old centre-half has played first-team football for Lowestoft Town and Thetford Town, and joins on a professional contract that will start in July after impressing during a trial with Boro’s Under-18s and Under-23s.