John McGinn was on Rovers’ radar for a ‘long, long time’, Tony Mowbray has revealed.

The Scotland international was linked with a move to Ewood Park before securing a switch to Aston Villa from Hibernian for around £4m last month.

The 23-year-old played against Rovers for Hibs in pre-season, with Mowbray, a former manager at Easter Road, well aware of the midfielder’s talents before then.

He said: “John McGinn is a good footballer and had been on our radar a long, long time.

“I know the people at Hibernian very, very well and there was a sense he was leaving. Celtic had been mooted a lot.

“John fell into a category of where we were going to spend some of the money, how much on this position, and at the early part I didn’t really see central midfield as somewhere where we needed to spend a lot of money.

“I felt as though we were reasonably strong in that area of the pitch and wanted to spend it in other areas.

“John was on the radar, it’s good for him to come to England and test himself.

“It’s been a pretty common route to leave Edinburgh and go to Glasgow and the Old Firm but it was good for John McGinn to come to England and test himself in a league where he will get tested. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”