IT will be a ‘refreshed and reinvigorated’ Blackburn Rovers who will face Norwich City in today’s Championship opener at Ewood Park (3pm).

That is the verdict of winger Elliott Bennett who insists he has no regrets in swapping the Canaries for Rovers last season.

Bennett said: “We’ve worked really hard in pre-season and we’re looking forward to getting going.

“All the new players have settled in really well. Sometimes people can say it’s disruptive but we’ve had the new players in since the very beginning of pre-season and we’ve done a lot of training together for six weeks.

“It’s refreshed and reinvigorated everyone and we’ve got a new manager, who’s really enthusiastic and really positive, and who brings new ideas.

“We’ve had a tough pre-season but that’s what it’s all about as it stands you in good stead for the season.”

It was not too long ago that Bennett was the Rovers new boy after being convinced by then manager Paul Lambert to make the move from Norwich in January.

Lambert quit at the end of last season and has since been replaced in the Ewood hotseat by Owen Coyle.

And Bennett said: “I’m thankful the manager (Lambert) brought me to this football club, it’s a fantastic football club, and as I said when I signed here, it’s got everything in place to really kick on.

“It’s just needs maybe a bit of settling down and calm because there’s been a lot of changes.

“But I’ve got no regrets in making the move here. The manager brought me in, showed a lot of faith in me, and I’m thankful he did that, but it’s on to new things and the future now.”

Bennett won promotion to the Premier League with the Canaries in 2015 but they spent just one season back in the top flight.

The Canaries are second favourites for the title behind Newcastle United. In contrast bookies reckons Rovers are in for a struggle.

But Bennett said: “I don’t care what they say. I think Leicester were tipped to go down last season and I’m not saying we’re going to do a Leicester but that’s the kind of thing that can happen.

“It’s not about what the bookmakers or pundits say. It’s easy to say, ‘this team are going to do well, this team are not going to do well’.

“It’s about how the team performs week in, week out. We’re ready, ready as we can be, we’ve worked really hard in pre-season and we’re relishing the opportunity to test ourselves against one of the relegated teams from the Premier League, a team that has been tipped to be right back up there.

“So what better way to start the season?”

Coyle was unable to tie up a loan deal for a young Premier League striker in time for this afternoon’s clash.

But Jamaica international attacker Giles Barnes has revealed he was close to joining Rovers from Houston Dynamo before he signed for Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend.

Barnes, who played under Coyle when he was in charge of Houston, said: “I’d obviously heard whispers about me going over to Blackburn, so I kind of knew that I was on the way out either way.

“There was interest in Blackburn. As far as I know the deal was really close to getting done and for some reason it didn’t happen.”

Rovers will hold a minute’s applause before today’s match in memory of their former players Neil Wilkinson and Russell Coughlin, who died this week.

Dates, meanwhile, have been confirmed for the club’s EFL Trophy Northern Section Group D fixtures.

Rovers will travel to Fleetwood Town on Tuesday, August 30 (7.45pm) and Carlisle United on Tuesday, October 4 (7.45pm) before welcoming Oldham Athletic to Ewood Park on Tuesday, November 8 (7.30pm).

Meanwhile, Chris Brown, who was released by Rovers in the summer, has signed a one-year deal with League One outfit Bury.

The striker failed to score in 37 appearances during two injury hit seasons at Ewood.