PAUL Downing believes this afternoon’s game with Shrewsbury Town offers Rovers the chance to lay down a marker at the top end of the League One table.

Rovers will be looking to cut the gap to the second-placed Shrews to two points when the promotion rivals meet at Ewood Park.

Paul Hurst’s side have been the surprise package this season with Rovers remaining on their coat-tails of late with their 14 game unbeaten run in the league.

Downing admits there will be plenty of respect shown to the visitors, but he says there would be great rewards if Rovers can be victorious.

“I think it would be good to dent their chances and give us an opportunity to close the gap to them,” the defender said.

“It’s an important game, at home we want to lay down a marker and start off another winning run which would be good.

“We have to respect them, as we have every team in this division as they can cause you problems, but I think we’ve got a generally good record at Ewood and with the fans behind us there’s no reason why we can’t roll them over and close the gap.”

Downing is yet to taste defeat in his 18 Rovers outings and this week saw his move from MK Dons made permanent.

He is set to be restored to the starting line-up after being rested for last weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Hull City, a break he welcomed.

“Just after Christmas where you have played four games in a short space of time over the Christmas period and some physical battles in there against some good teams, I feel recharged now and ready to go again,” the 26-year-old added.”

“We’ve got some big games coming up and 21 games to get as many points as we can and get promoted.”

One area in which Rovers will need to be wary of is from set plays.

Toto Nsiala scored for Shrewsbury in the reverse fixture in September, heading in a right wing corner, one of 10 goals Rovers have shipped from set plays.

Indeed, of the last 11 goals that Rovers have conceded, seven of those have been headers from set plays, while another was a penalty.

But not wanting to make too big of an issue over it, Downing says it is something that needs tweaking, rather than overhauling.

He added: “I think when you concede a goal you don’t like to do that as a defender.

“It’s something to improve on, we’re aware of that in the dressing room but we don’t want to make too big of an issue of it.

“At Rotherham we defended a lot of corners well before they scored from one at the end.

“It might just be fine details that need tweaking, just go out there and not over think.

“It’s down to us defenders to be that bit more aggressive and take more responsibility to head the ball out.

“We have some good headers of the ball so I don’t see it being a problem as we move forward, we just need to tweak it and that will be the end of it.”