YOU would not blame Gary Bowyer if he had reached for the paracetamol once or twice this week.

Because if he faced a selection headache over who to pick in goal for Middlesbrough then that is nothing compared to the one he must resolve in time for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.


His decision to start Simon Eastwood at the Riverside proved to be spot-on, the stand-in keeper producing a truly heroic performance that contained a truly world-class save.

If Bowyer sticks to his beliefs then Eastwood will retain his place for the Owls clash.

The Rovers boss has always maintained that players who take their chance will be rewarded by keeping the shirt but I could understand it if he chooses to brings Jason Steele straight back into the side.

Up until his enforced absence against his parent club Boro the on-loan keeper had produced a run of highly accomplished displays.

True they were not as eye-catching as Eastwood’s against Aitor Karanka’s men but they were enough to suggest that he is beginning to grow into the role of Rovers’ number one.

And, ultimately, that’s what Steele has been brought here to become.

I can understand the argument that putting Eastwood back on the bench could send out the wrong message but what message would it send to Steele who has not put a glove wrong after overcoming an admittedly testing start to his Rovers career?

That’s why if I was in Bowyer’s shoes – and I’m glad I’m not – I would recall Steele but pull in Eastwood to thank him again for his impressive show of resistance against Boro.

Yes a number of shots he would have expected to save but if it was Boro’s way of testing him, then it is one he passed with flying colours, just like he did at QPR 12 months earlier.

Without him Rovers would never have been in a position to snatch more points from the jaws of defeat. That’s a massive 14 they have taken now this season after going behind.

Such a haul is testament to the genuine team spirit that has developed between players and staff – and supporters too.

There was no sweeter sight than seeing the celebrations between the fans and the boys in green at the end of another dramatic afternoon that left most needing a stiff drink, let alone painkillers.

The scene was very much as a club as one.

That was underlined afterwards when Steele raced from his place in the stands to congratulate Eastwood, who received a richly deserved standing ovation when he entered the dressing room.

His team-mates know they can count on him when called on. That might not be against the Owls on Saturday but, even so, there will come a time in the not too distance future, namely Boro at home on December 28.