Rovers will need to be ‘mindful’ of Reading’s attacking threat – including that of Lucas Joao, a player who Tony Mowbray knows well.

Joao scored three times under Mowbray while on loan from Sheffield Wednesday as Rovers battled to try and stay in the Championship.

Rovers made enquiries about bringing the Portuguese frontman back to Ewood Park last summer, but weren’t willing to hit the asking fee of the Owls.

The 26-year-old scored a stunning goal against Rovers at Ewood Park last December and moved to the Royals this summer for a reported fee of around £7m.

He could return to the starting line-up for tomorrow’s meeting with Rovers, alongside George Puscas, another player who has impressed Mowbray in recent times.

On Rovers’ previous interest in Joao, Mowbray said: “We asked a few questions over the last year or so about Lucas Joao, but not ultimately at the numbers he went for.

“I like his individuality. He’s 6’3, laid back, but you can get the ball in to him and he can drag it from foot to foot, has a trick, can score goals, can head it, yet it never fell in our lap.

“Last time we played against him he scored a screamer from 25 yards. We have to be mindful of that if he plays.

“I sat and watched Puscas in the Under-21s tournament in the summer and thought ‘wow, who is this?’ and then he turns up at Reading.

“I think they’re pretty good up front and we have to be mindful of that.

“Ejaria and Swift are their best technical players so going forward they’re a very good football team.”

Reading have picked up seven points from their seven games so far, and have been an unpredictable force under Jose Gomes.

They beat Rovers when the sides last met at the Madejski Stadium in February, a game which Rovers failed to make their dominance count.

And while acknowledging their qualities in attack, Mowbray feels there are weaknesses for his side to exploit this weekend.

He added: “I thought we generally played pretty well that night, but possession stats and area domination, it was a very frustrating night for us to lose the game in the manner we did.

“I think you learn lessons from those games, try and take them forward.

“While they’re a very different team now, they spent £7m on Joao and a similar sort of number on Puscas, they have Swift and Ejaria, Liam Moore, really good players.

“They have, at times, had a good start to the season.

“Standing on a windy pitch on a Sunday morning watching my sons play, I had all the dads telling me they went to watch Boro play on Saturday and were saying ‘how we won I don’t know, Reading were very good’.

“I have watched that game since and Reading were good. They have good ball retention, you have to be really organised out of possession against them.

“At times they can be vulnerable on transition and counter-attack. So we have to pick the right team and go there and understand that they are good with the ball, strikers who can hurt you if you’re not organised, and see how you go.

“I watched them beat Cardiff 3-0 on the TV and they are good on their day, expansive, passing team, and we have to make sure our strengths can overcome theirs.”