WITH Jason Steele and Shane Duffy having made such accomplished full debuts in the win at Fulham, it’s almost been forgotten just how effective Rovers’ other deadline day recruit was on his last appearance for the club.

If there was a catalyst for the brave but ultimately unsuccessful late rally in last Wednesday’s defeat to Derby, then it was the arrival of Ryan Tunnicliffe from the bench.


Up until that point the Rams had run the show.

But, as good as Steve McClaren’s side were for the first 60 minutes, in part they were allowed to.

With Will Hughes and Jamie Ward swanning around as if they owned the place, it was disappointing that, in that first hour in particular, Rovers did not pick up a single booking.

That’s not to condone foul play.

But it was not until Tunnicliffe came on that Rovers started to get in Derby’s faces.

The on-loan Fulham midfielder picked up the tempo immediately, got stuck in, and passed the ball diligently too.

It was a promising cameo and a shame, then, that he was ineligible to face his parent club Fulham on Saturday.

As it transpired, more so for Tunnicliffe himself, as Rovers ground out the sort of ugly away victory that was to be commended no matter the circumstances surrounding it.

Lee Williamson and Tom Cairney went off injured in the feisty affair and both face a race to be fit for Saturday’s visit of Watford to Ewood Park. Should they fail to make it, Craig Conway and Chris Taylor would have every reason to feel hard done by if their energetic performances from the bench were not rewarded with places in Gary Bowyer’s starting line-up on Saturday.

That said Tunnicliffe had already made a strong case for his first start and so it leaves Rovers boss Bowyer with the type of selection poser that he would have been unable to ponder pre-September 1.

But no matter who gets the nod this weekend, the aim simply has to be a second successive league win for the first time this season.

Doing that would break a sequence of results which reads DWLWLWLW. Symmetry suggests, then, that we will have to settle for a draw, at best, with Watford.

But having banished the notion they cannot keep clean sheets by shutting out a revitalised albeit 10-man Fulham team, now is the time for Rovers to start showing the sort of consistency that has so far eluded them this season.

And the sort of consistency that will be key to whether they finish in the top six or not.