With Darnell Furlong suspended, academy graduate Gardner-Hickman made his league debut against Grant McCann’s side on Wednesday and shone at right wing-back.
But the game also saw the surprise return of Kipre to Albion’s starting XI – with the 24-year-old getting the nod ahead of Semi Ajayi.
Kipre started the opening match of the season at Bournemouth.
But since then he has started just one league game – against Millwall back in September.
Struggling Hull were expected to head to The Hawthorns with a game plan to frustrate Albion – which they did. And that led to Ismael plumping for Kipre over Ajayi due to the former Wigan man being more comfortable on the ball.
“We got exactly what we wanted from Taylor and Cedric against Hull,” the boss said.
“I’ve always said we will need every player, all the players.
“Even the young players – we’ve spoken to everyone and told them be ready. Sometimes you need to wait longer, one month, two months, three months but at some point the time will come, so be ready.
“It was the perfect example against Hull, it gives us more possibilities and more options and it depends for sure what type of game you’ll face.
“Against Middlesbrough today, we expect a similar game with a low block, compact, a disciplined opponent so you need to be confident with the ball, to control it, to create chances, to be patient and to have an aggressive counter press.
“Then when you have more options, you have more choice and can make better decisions for your game-plan.”
Neil Warnock brings his Middlesbrough team to The Hawthorns today as a record breaker.
By taking charge of Boro against Luton in midweek he became the first man to have managed 1,602 games in English football. And Ismael has huge respect for the man in the opposition dugout today.
“Big respect, he works with consistency,” the boss said.
“It’s unbelievable numbers, and it shows what it means to work with consistency and success. He’s a great example for other managers.”