Tony Mowbray believes relegation to League One reconnected the supporters with the players - and now hopes that will be reflected in the Ewood Park attendances.

Rovers will put their 24-game unbeaten home record on the line when they host Nottingham Forest tomorrow, the team who pipped them to survival on the final day of the 2016/17 campaign.

The average attendance in Rovers’ four home games this term is 13,283, up from 12,832 last year and 12,688 in their previous Championship season.

A crowd of 27,500 packed inside Ewood Park for the final game of last season against Oxford United and Mowbray hopes to attract some of those people back as Rovers aim to continue their progress.

The Ewood boss wouldn’t go as far as suggesting relegation benefited his side but said: “There’s an argument to suggest that.

“I would suggest that it took a year out of our development to get back to where we want to go.

“It took us a year out of competing at this level and building a team who believe and expect to win matches and be at the top end of the table.

“What it did was that a few players didn’t want to play in League One and left. If not, we might have a different set of players now.

“I can’t sit here and say that it was a good thing we went down.

“But what it did was connect the supporters with the team. Yet, have the numbers in the crowd gone up from the last time we were in this league? Probably not, very similar.

“Did it reconnect a whole generation of people to see a winning team to come back and support us this time around? Not really.

“Yet I feel a warmth in the stadium between the fans, and the away support as well, they can see the team giving everything they have got. They are playing for the badge on the shirt.”

One of Mowbray’s ambitions at Rovers is to try and see Ewood Park full on a regular basis, and although he understands why some fans stay away, he feels the players are deserving of support.

He added: “You can go to places like Bristol City and Pride Park and you can feel what a full stadium can do to the momentum of a football match.

“It can drive a team to either get back in a game or drive them to victory, almost pick a team up and take them towards the opposition goal.

“My ambition, ultimately as a football coach, at every club I go to is to try and fill the stadium. Why? Because the team are playing with pride and passion and then the fans go down the pub and tell their mates and they want to go the following week.

“Whether we can get there at this football club I don’t know.

“What I would say is that the supporters we have, home and away, they have been exceptionally good and I feel the connection with the team and the supporters.

“I sat in awe against Oxford United, 27,500, and thought why can’t we achieve that every single week?’

“I don’t know where those people are that came to that game. What do they do on a Saturday afternoon?

“It might be naïve question, I’m not sure, but I’m just emotional about my team, I want them to be successful, I want the people to see the team winning and feel the emotion and passion for football because I feel these players deserve a huge support for the effort they are putting in.”