GARY Bowyer has shown he has a sharp eye for a player over his 18 months in charge of Rovers.

The way the likes of Tommy Spurr, Tom Cairney, Ben Marshall, Rudy Gestede, Craig Conway and, if his early showings are anything to go by, Shane Duffy have performed since Bowyer brought them to the club is proof positive of that.


But it is a player he fought hard to keep at Ewood Park, and whose new contract last summer attracted little fuss or fanfare, who has been the surprise success story of the season so far.

Bowyer, both privately and publically, always maintained that he wanted Markus Olsson to remain at Rovers.

A quarter of the way into the campaign, we certainly know why.

Whether Olsson would have started the season as Rovers’ first-choice left back if Spurr had not been ruled out by injury is now a moot point.

As since then the Sweden international has grasped his opportunity with both hands.

Olsson’s form has been a revelation. So much so that the returning Spurr faces a genuine fight to win his place back in Bowyer’s starting line-up.

When the fans’ favourite was laid low with a serious groin injury on the eve of the season opener against Cardiff, it came as a big blow.

A rock-solid defender, blessed with a good engine and a missile of a long throw, was never going to be easily replaced.

But Olsson has stepped into his shoes admirably. His ability going forward has never been in question and his cross for Rudy Gestede’s goal against Watford was as good as you will see all season.

But, importantly, his defending has been up to scratch, too, and his goal-saving block from a Nahki Wells shot early on in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Huddersfield set the tone for what was to follow.

From front to back there was more urgency and bravery about Rovers’ defending and while, as has been well documented, it proved an ultimately disappointing afternoon to round off a disappointing week, the clean sheet was the positive Bowyer and his players could rightly cling to.

Another was the fact that results elsewhere went their way.

Going into the international break Rovers find themselves four points off the top six.

The challenge they face upon returning to action at Portman Road on Saturday week is breaking into them for the first time. Now, as was so nearly the case last season, I would happily see Rovers sitting outside of the play-offs for the next seven months as long as they are in them come the final whistle on May 2.

But wouldn’t it be nice to be in the top six and slipping out of it rather than forever being on the edges of it?

To do that Rovers are going to have to show more consistency – something which you cannot accuse Olsson of not showing.