Joe Rothwell was a miss for Rovers in the weekend defeat to Luton, but has trained ahead of tomorrow night’s game with Nottingham Forest.

Rothwell was set to start at Reading on September, but pulled out on the morning of the 2-1 through illness which also ruled him out against the Hatters.

Midfielder Corry Evans was also absent, but like Rothwell, returned to training on Monday as the Rovers boss delivered a clean bill of health ahead of the visit of Sabri Lamouchi’s side.

Rothwell finished last season in fine form, scoring what proved to be the club’s goal of the season in a win at Forest in April, and prior to the Reading win, had featured either from the start, or off the bench, in 22 consecutive league matches.

His sole Championship start this season came in the defeat at Fulham on August 10, but Rovers missed his ability to drive forward with the ball on Saturday as they struggled to break through a resilient Luton defence.

Mowbray believes the 24-year-old, signed from Oxford last summer, has improved the defensive side of his game, and added to his quality on the ball, is pushing hard for a starting spot again.

“I didn’t hide that, Joe would have started at Reading. We’d done two days work on that,” Mowbray explained.

“But that’s football, we had to change the plans on the day of the game, that happens, they are human beings and they get ill.

“Joe Rothwell is an extremely talented footballer and as I keep saying to him, he has to have belief in himself and work really hard.

“It’s about out of possession as well as in possession, he has to work hard to defend in an organised shape and manner.

“I think all the messages are coming loud and clear to him, I have more confidence and trust to put him in the team and let him do what he does.

“It’s exceptional the way he travels with the ball, how fast he can travel with the ball, dragging the ball from foot to foot and beat players like they’re not there.

“Hopefully he will be up to speed very quickly and helping the team get results.”

Rothwell had to be patient for opportunities last season, making 13 league starts, and despite finishing last season in the side, has largely been used off the bench so far this term.

Mowbray places great importance on his wide players being able to help out defensively as well as going forward, but believes the message has been received by Rothwell during his time at Ewood Park.

He added: “As I tell all the players, it’s a trust issue. I have to trust them to do a job in possession and out of possession.

“You can’t just be brilliant on the ball and then do nothing out of possession and let teams attack us in your part of the pitch.

“Joe wasn’t the only one, there are players, particularly at this level, who have exceptional ability and quality that they bring to the team, but they have deficiencies to work on.

“They all have their individual work plans that they have to work hard on and when they knock on my door and ask why they’re not playing, they know my thoughts, I’ve told them this is what I see, what you’re great at, what you have to get better at, and I think every player is like that.

“We have some very talented footballers whose strengths can really hurt the opposition, but they have to work on their weaknesses and things they can get better at.”

Evans made his first league start at Reading, but wasn’t in the matchday squad against Luton as Bradley Johnson took his place.

“They have both trained. I think (Monday) was the first day they felt well enough to come back in to the group, so we’ll assess them,” Mowbray revealed.

“They have had a heavy cold, I don’t think you could go as far as saying they’ve had flu, but they have been under the weather, a lot of coughing and spluttering.

“This was the first day that they have been healthy, but they are in the squad and we’ll see whether they get involved.”