LET’S cut to the chase, the refreshing air of optimism swirling around Ewood Park is not misplaced – Rovers can win promotion this season.

Any side that boasts the talents of Grant Hanley, Craig Conway, Tom Cairney, Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede – players that would walk into most Championship sides – has to be in with a chance.

But Gary Bowyer, who has done so much to restore a genuine sense of hope in Rovers fans’ heart, is right to strike a cautionary note about the competition his team will face in 2014-15.

A lot of focus has be on the sides who have come down from the Premier League, and the money they have spent, and the sides who have come up, whose dealings in the market suggest they are certainly not here to make up the numbers.

But of more interest have been the activities of the likes of Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest, Watford and Middlesbrough, teams who finished just below Rovers in the standings last time out.

They have been busy strengthening both their starting line-ups and their squads.

Rovers, in contrast, have been relatively quiet.

That is partly due to the fact that only minor surgery has been required.

But it is mainly because of the drastic need to reduce the club’s wage bill if it is to meet Financial Fair Play in the seasons to come.

As a result, Bowyer has been restricted to just three signings – two of them beings frees, the other a loan.

If we are being brutally honest that is two signings too few.

Another defender is certainly required and it is becoming increasingly apparent that Bowyer would like another goalkeeper to push and compete with Paul Robinson.

Whether he gets either will depend on the purse strings – which, after years of disastrous and damaging overspending, have been rightly tightened – can be loosened.

If they are, and Bowyer gets the men he wants, then Rovers’ chance of winning a place back in the Premier League will be enhanced.

But if he has to go with what he’s got, that is not to say a top-six place is unattainable. 

When everyone is fit and firing, like they were at the back end of last season, I would not swap Rovers’ first-choice starting line-up for Bournemouth’s, Forest’s, Watford’s and Middlesbrough’s or many other sides for that matter.

But crucially they cannot afford too many injuries, especially in the defence.

Get that fortune that was so badly missing last season and we could be celebrating a top-flight return come May.

But for me, as things currently stand, that will have to come through the lottery of the play-offs and a Wembley success.