Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out three talking points ahead of Rovers' trip to Reading.


A Rovers starting line-up without Lewis Travis has been something of a rarity in 2019. In Rovers' last 27 Championship fixtures, he has started 23 of them, coming off the bench in three of the other four.

But he was among the substitutes against Millwall, introduced in the final 10 minutes, as John Buckley was preferred from the start

With three central defenders, Mowbray likely thought it was overkill to go with both Travis and Bradley Johnson in the middle of the park, preferring a more ball-playing option in Buckley.

However, Travis has started each of Rovers’ last 14 away fixtures in the Championship, completing 90 minutes in all but one of them.

So whether it’s two, or three, central defenders behind him, Travis’ energetic approach is likely to be called for in the middle of the park with Rovers on the road.

He won an impressive 10 tackles at the Hawthorns, patrolling the central area of the pitch virtually alone in the second half as Rovers pressed for an equaliser.



One minute twinkle-toes with the ball at his feet, the next looking like he has his boot laces tied together, Lucas Joao is really a player who can amaze and frustrate in equal measure.

Joao scored three times during a loan spell in 2016/17, but despite some moments of magic, struggled to show much hunger for the fight as Rovers battled relegation, making just three starts.

He finds himself now with Reading, having scored against them on the opening day of this season for Sheffield Wednesday, following a big-money summer move.

The Portuguese forward scored on his Royals debut, and included in his 10 Championship goals last season was a goal of the season contender at Ewood Park in December.

Despite admirers of his talent, Wednesday’s asking price for Joao will have put Rovers off making anything more than an enquiry in to a possible return to the club.

But should the 26-year-old be recalled to the starting line-up this weekend, his unpredictability will be one to watch.



Rovers conceded 69 goals last season, 48 of which came on the road, the most in the division.

Tony Mowbray has seen his side keep four clean sheets in their last five matches, but three of those have come at home.

Defensive mistakes cost them dear in the defeat at West Brom before the international break, shipping three in the space of 18 first-half minutes, and Rovers must take their Ewood form on the road. Should they concede, they will need to show a level of resilience they struggled to find last season.

Mowbray will need to make the call whether to stick with a three man defence, or revert to the more familiar four.

While he didn’t put a foot wrong his return to the side, and would be no slight on his performance against Millwall, should Mowbray go with two central defenders then it would surely have to be Tosin Adarabioyo that misses out, allowing Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams to continue their impressive partnership.