Taken from Neil Warnock’s press conference ahead of Leeds United’s trip to Middlesbrough (09/03/2012).

We start with injury news.

“Aidy White will probably train a little bit today and might be involved tomorrow, but nobody else will come in to the reckoning.

“We were hoping to get a game for Andy O’Brien this week, but that didn’t materialise – the physios don’t think he’s ready just yet. [Leigh] Bromby’s not ready yet and [Alex] Bruce is not ready yet”

Is it just a case of match fitness with O’Brien?

“Yeah, he’s had a couple of months without [playing] and the physio thinks it’s too early, so we’ll just have to go by his opinion”

Happy with Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw away to Hull?

“Yeah. The only disappointment for me was that we had so many opportunities, to make better opportunities in the last third. […] We got the ball in wonderful areas and never made the goalkeeper work. That’s the only disappointment for me.

“Unlike the other two games where I thought we made good chances (against Southampton and Portsmouth). But you have to give Hull credit for that […] they’re a defensively solid unit that don’t give much away and you can see they’ve played together for a while.”

Do you think the team is close to what you’re looking for?

“The lads are giving me everything, 100%, I can’t ask any more than that.

“When I came I said ‘look, between now and the end of the season, as long as you give me everything and you come off the pitch knowing you’ve given me everything, you won’t hear me criticise you’, at the moment, [they are doing and] I can’t ask any more than that

“I think we do need a little bit of quality in certain areas, rather than quantity, you know, I think the squad has got the numbers. But I think there’s a little bit of quality missing in certain areas, and it’s up to us to try and bring that into the club”

Are you at the early stage of planning for next season already?

“Not really no, I think we’ve got to [stick with what we’ve got for now]. After the Doncaster game, if you’d told me we’d go to Portsmouth and Hull and not concede a goal, and the disappointment of Southampton, that we should have won that… If we can get a point away from home and win all our home games, then we’ll be very close and that’s how I’ve set my stall out, but we do have to win away and it’d be nice to start at Middlesbrough.”

You did say on Tuesday this was a must-win?

“I’m not sure it’s a ‘must win’ but it’s one we’d like to win. I think we have to win one of the five away games coming up and it’s an opportunity to put that to bed early doors if we can.”

How much do you know about Middlesbrough? They’ve had a good season by the looks of things?

“Yeah, I think they’ve calmed down haven’t they? Tony [Mowbray] is a steady manager and they’ve brought good signings in, steadied the ship and I think they’re looking like they’ll not be far away.

“I think consistency – listening to Tony’s comments – is probably missing here and there, but if that’s missing, they’re not doing bad really are they? If they do get consistent last couple of games, they’ve got hell of a chance”

They’re another play-off contender you’ve got to take points off?

“Yeah, we thought that at Hull, and Middlesbrough – with their current league position – will be expecting to beat us.

“But, it’s a derby and I’m sure we’ll be taking our full quota of supporters who’ll make themselves heard, so, it’d be nice for me to give them a little bit more to shout about going forward.

“We’ve sorted one or two problems at the back, and I don’t think that’s stopped us creating, I just think we made bad decisions in the Hull game, and that we were OK against Portsmouth and Southampton (going forward).”

You said after Tuesday you weren’t sure whether you’d be looking for a centre back, have certain players surprised you?

 “I’m not in a rush at the back now, I think they’ve listened and come on board with what we wanted and apart from the goal against Southampton, I don’t think they’ve really put a foot wrong in the three games.

“And even when they have done, Lonergan’s pulled a good save off so, that’s a good recipe for a back five really.

“I think Michael Brown’s playing his part, he’s probably been the unsung hero for me, since I’ve come to the club. I think he’s been instrumental both in the defensive and attacking side, he’s showed a cool head out there”

It’s interesting because he wasn’t really involved before you arrived?

 “I know, and yet if he got injured at the moment I think we’d struggle to replace him with the squad we have”

How do you think his game has changed since he played for you nine years ago?

“Back then, I just gave him the freedom to go forward. If I did that now, he wouldn’t get back [laughs]

“But he’s still got a lot to offer I think, his contribution since I’ve been here has been fantastic and I think he’s brought the best out of Adam [Clayton], although I think that was probably Adam’s poorest game against Hull, and he’ll be disappointed with his performance.

“That little bit of creativity he normally gives us wasn’t there and that might have been because he put so much into the Southampton game that he was maybe a little tired, so I’m hoping the extra day will see Adam back to normal for Sunday.”

Was Adam disappointed? Because when he plays with his head up, he’s some player, isn’t he?

“Yeah, he is and he’s got so much more to learn. He does need help at times, he tries things in the wrong areas but he’s a young lad and you’ve got to learn by your mistakes. Hopefully that doesn’t cost us.

“You look at what he’s good at, and not what he’s not good at. We’re trying to put elements in his game for discipline, and at the same time, not take away the creativity that he gives us. He’s got a lot to work on there.”

Is there a points tally you think we’ll need for play-offs? Last year it was 75…

“It’ll not be far away from that…”

Which is a big challenge?

“Yeah, we have to win every home game and get a point away from home but it won’t work like that, I do think we’ll have to win away from home to get anywhere near that sort of tally.”

If Leeds can’t make it, what’s the challenge for the players?

“I think you have to ask that when we can’t get there. First of all, we’ve got to try and step up to the challenge. We’ve got to do a little bit more positive decision making to create and score goals, whilst at the same time still keep concentration at the back.

“It would be nice, between now and the end of the season, to give the fans something to shout about. I think they see where we’re going, but we probably want to get there yesterday, not tomorrow. It’s frustrating at the minute.”

Bringing Paul Robinson in – is he one of these ‘leaders’ that you mentioned?

“Yeah. I look at the type of player I think we need and he fits that bill. There’s not many at this time of year that you can bring in so to get one like Paul was a plus for me.

“I will be using him shortly, he’s here for a number of games and we’ll play that by ear.”

“I think senior pros are important in certain areas, but it’s not just that, it’s being a leader and the attitude he’s got is what I want from my players – that little bit more than what’s necessary”

Have the team been a little more vocal?

“They seem to be talking well during the game. I thought we started the game against Hull very well, the first twenty minutes, there was only that period up to half time and late on they had a flurry.

“It’s so close the Championship, between success and failure, and you’ve only got to look at the top now – they’re all trying to help us get in the play-offs and we haven’t been able to take advantage of that, but it’s not been for a lack of trying.”

There are teams with games in hand on you?

“It’s not going to be down to other teams, it’s ourselves that decide whether we get in the play-offs, or anywhere near the play-offs. And that will be decided in the next 3-4 games I think. You don’t get much tougher than Middlesbrough away, West Ham at home.

So it’s still possible?

“I don’t think anyone is running away with sixth position, everyone is leaving up in the air. That’s why it’s disappointing not to have got more points when you look at the run of [previous] fixtures, even before I came, there’s 2-3 fixtures there where we’ve probably missed out on points, so it’s frustrating more than anything.

“Whether we’re good enough at the moment is another thing, you don’t let opportunities go if you can help it.”

All this bodes well for next season either way?

“The time I’m having now with the players, I can’t tell you how important it is to look at everyone at the club and see where we need to be.

“I can’t remember exactly how many, but I brought somewhere in the region of seven players in at QPR that summer, and I’d had two months to look at what we’d got. And I do feel we’re probably in that sort of mould.”

With that in mind, contract talks are still on hold until the summer?

“Well, we haven’t got enough time, but I’ve already spoken to 2-3 players and I will speak to their agents in the next few days, next week. You’ve got to look ahead to that. But at this moment in time, there’s not enough hours in the day.”

Tom Lees, has he pleased you so far?

“He has, he’s done really well Tom. He’s come out of his shell a little bit and his personality is coming through a lot more. He doesn’t talk a lot, but his desire and will to do what I want him to do has been very, very good. I’m very pleased with him.”

When you first came, did you feel he needed some protection?

“Well, I just thought he was a good player but that we needed leaders in those areas. That’s why we went after one or two players, but at the moment if he continues to play like that I don’t think I could bring anyone in to play better.

“I don’t see the point of bringing someone in if Tom can sustain the consistency that he’s shown me.”

Back to Robert Snodgrass, have you had any reaction from Scotland regarding his 4am arrival back in the UK?

“No, I’ve not had time. It’s all water under the bridge and we’ll move on quickly, but I will speak to Craig”

He didn’t look like he was suffering from exhaustion?

“No, he did well, didn’t he? I’ve no complaints really.”

Two weeks left in the loan market, will you be bringing any more in?

“If I can, I’d like to bring one or two more in with a view to looking towards next season. It would be great to bring in a couple and see if they’re what I’m looking for.”

Is Snodgrass’ contract one of those you’ve looked at?

“All the players that have a year or less I’ll be talking to, Robert is no different.”