TONY Mowbray says it was an unusual decision to take his players away on a pre-season training camp so early into their summer schedule.

But having put his players through their paces in Austria in their first full week back, he saw the fruits of their labours against Hibernian.

Neil Lennon’s Hibs had returned to pre-season training earlier than Rovers, and had two friendlies under their belt when the teams met at Easter Road, where it was a first run-out of the summer for Mowbray’s men on Sunday.

But while the Scottish Premier League side were on top in the first half against a young Rovers line-up, there were no question marks over their fitness.

The same could be said of a more senior look to the side in the second half, after wholesale changes. And the experience told with two quickfire goals.

After taking on Port Vale on Saturday, Rovers will be ready to test themselves at home to Liverpool a week on Thursday.


DANNY Butterworth got his chance to make an impact in the first team set-up as Mowbray started the game at Hibernian with the exuberance of youth. But while the youngsters gave a decent account of themselves there was nothing to suggest, at this stage, that they would be pushing for a place in the first team this season - certainly not after promotion to the Championship.

You have to wonder where their pathway to the first team might come with Rovers keen to push on after bouncing back from League One at the first attempt.

But while it might mean a few go out on loan to get more experience, Mowbray remains keen to keep them on Rovers’ books and monitor their development and progress.


AS with England and their World Cup bid, there is an air of optimism among Rovers fans who are preparing to go back into the Championship with their club full of hope.

Supporters travelled up to Edinburgh in decent number and voice for the first pre-season friendly, despite it being some 200 miles away. And there was a real buzz about the prospect of trips back to Norwich, Ipswich, Nottingham Forest and Leeds et al.

The unity of players and fans that was restored through last season’s success remains evident, and that continued togetherness can only be a positive going into the new campaign.