There was intrigue and excitement in equal measure as Rovers confirmed the signing of Lewis Holtby on a two-year deal.

How ready was he for the cut and thrust of Championship action, and just why did a three-times capped German international find himself without a club in the middle of September?

In his first 24 hours at Brockhall, Holtby has made a real impression. Whether it be with his quick whit and turn of phrase, or more importantly, his quality in training, his is a signing that has captured the imagination.

It is one that Tony Mowbray didn’t think Rovers would be able to do as the 29-year-old cut his ties with Hamburg. But Rovers have continued to track him, with Holtby believing of the five firm offers he received, a return to England with Rovers was the one best suited to him.

While he has been without a club since May, Holtby hasn’t been without regular training, that’s not his style, spending time with fourth tier German side Rot-Weiss Essen and working individually as well.

So while he will require some bedding in time, and Mowbray is rarely one to rush new signings straight in, Holtby is raring to go, his physical statistics registered during his fitness test put him in the top four players in the squad.

“I feel good, very good. I’ve worked very hard,” the charismatic midfielder said.

“It’s not like I’ve been to Barbados and to Mexico and on holiday. I worked my butt off, I worked very hard individually.

“I trained for a month with a team in the fourth league in Germany and was at a high standard, very intensive training.

“I can’t rest anyway, I can’t be at home sat on the couch watching television with a bag of crisps. I need to do something, keeping fit.

“As soon as I see the ball I chase after it like a little golden retriever!”

Mowbray was impressed with his quality in possession, as well as his fitness, during his first training session with the squad on Thursday. Holtby may well travel with the squad to Reading this weekend, but a place on the bench appears unlikely, even despite his first impressions.

The boss said: “That might be the assumption and yet he was right up there near the top of our fitness drills he did as part of his medical.

“Fitness wise, it’s not like he needs to do a pre-season and work weeks and weeks and weeks. He was right at the top of our numbers when you do a fitness test.

“Watching him on the grass with the ball, joining in with the team, he didn’t find it difficult or was blowing heavy.

“He looks alright to me, but it’s not as though after one day training I’m going to throw him straight in the team because he has to learn about our principles of play, how we play, what we do, but he’s not far away from playing I would suggest.”

Holtby has dual nationality, born to German mother Heidi and English father Chris and was capped three times by the German national side, the last of which came in 2013.

He came through the ranks at Schalke, including loan spells with both Mainz and Bochum, before a switch to England. That included 40 appearances for Spurs between January 2013 and the summer of 2014, also taking in a temporary stay with Fulham.

But since 2014 Holtby has been with Hamburg, playing over 100 times for the club and developing a deep connection which made their relegation from Bundesliga two seasons ago so difficult to take.

He took stock of his career after ending his association with Hamburg and says that was part of the reason he found himself waiting until September to get himself fixed up again. And the potential in Rovers, and their vision for the future, is what convinced him to put pen-to-paper.

He added: “I had five very intensive years at Hamburg.

“I was very close with that club, very emotional, and I needed a bit of time, what did I want next, the next chapter?

“Was it playing back in England, or something way different in a new country? There were a lot of questions, lots of things came up, but the transfer market this summer was very odd.

“It wasn’t something I had ever seen, choosing where you’re going to play. It took time but after a lot of talks, a lot of people trying to influence you, we stayed firm and thought in the end that Blackburn Rovers should be the next chapter.

“Something is going to build up here, the club stabilised last year, coming up from League One and now in the Championship and the people are pushing here and you can feel the ambition here, everyone is pushing the club and they’re not stopping the work.

“I could fit right in to that and it was the right choice coming here and signing a contract.”

Rovers tracked Holtby earlier in the summer and had been keen on adding a midfield playmaker to their ranks.

They thought the opportunity to sign him had gone, with sides in Turkey and Greece, as well as a lucrative move to China, all presented to Holtby as possible alternatives. But when the opportunity came to secure his signature, Mowbray says it is one the club couldn’t refuse.

“It’s been on the go for a good few months now,” explained Mowbray, who believes Holtby can operate as both a deep-lying midfielder as well as in more attacking areas.

“It’s something the recruitment department shouted up well before the window shut.

“I think we felt it wasn’t going to happen, and couldn’t happen, financially, yet we’ve managed to make it work.

“I don’t question his talent and his ability with the football, watching him train someone asked me what they thought and my first reaction was ‘wow’, the pictures he sees with the ball, he plays with his head up, hits long passes, short passes, his athleticism and legs are good.

“How did it come about? Identifying him in a market of the world we were searching and a good player was out of contract.

“We tracked it, for a while it didn’t look like it was happening, but it has and he’s here and now he has to prove himself on the grass and try and get in our team.”

With transfer talks now over, Holtby is looking forward to opening the next chapter of his career.

“Time has passed quickly. I’m very happy to be here and happy to seal my contract and get working with the lads,” he said.

“I really enjoyed my first day, a good set of boys, the manager and the staff. What I love about a club like this is the people that work around the club. They have all been really helpful from the start and made it very easy for me.

“After such a long spell without playing or getting consecutive football training I was looking forward to it like a little boy.

“It was nice. There was good quality in the team and training was fun, a lot of hard work, but I like it when I come out of training with a good sweat on.”