NEIL WARNOCK had all but written Sol Bamba off after he was released by Cardiff City – but the Middlesbrough manager is delighted to see the 36-year-old established as an integral member of his Boro squad.

Bamba performed superbly last night as Boro shrugged off their recent poor form to claim a welcome and deserved 2-0 win over Sheffield United.

Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair were on target as the Teessiders climbed into the top half of the table, but Bamba, who underwent chemotherapy treatment to overcome Non-Hodgkin lymphoma earlier this year, claimed the Man of the Match honours as he rolled back the years with a dominant defensive display.

“When Sol came to me, he didn’t even have a League Two club wanting him,” said Warnock. “I thought he was going to work for Sky if I’m honest, he does a good job on that.

“He came and asked if I would do him a favour, and I felt obliged to do that. But in my wildest dreams, I didn’t ever think he would be as fit as he is now. When I left him at Cardiff, he didn’t look fit enough to me. I didn’t think he’d play again.

“But he came here and within a week, me, Blackie (Kevin Blackwell) and Ronnie (Jepson) were saying, ‘This is a new Sol, isn’t it’. He was really distraught about being released like he was, but it’s worked in our favour because he’s the one we need shouting in the dressing room.”

Boro went into the game on the back of successive defeats, but ran out comfortable winners as they dominated from the off.

“I thought we played like we enjoyed it,” said Warnock. “I thought we did really well to limit them like we did. They’re a good side, but we scored two good goals and with a more decisive pass here and there, we might have scored more. I can't fault any of the lads."