Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out three talking points from the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest. 


We asked 100 people to name their preferred front four for Rovers. Our survey said: inconclusive.

Bradley Dack, you would imagine, would be in all 100, but the make-up of the other three positions is certainly up for grabs.

Adam Armstrong was the only one against Forest to boost his credentials, given plenty of the ball and licence to run at full back Matty Cash and used his pace to good effect.

It was when moved to the right that he raced on to a fine Dack pass to open the scoring, and it is from that flank he finished last season in excellent form, none moreso than at QPR in April, with Rovers returning to Loftus Road this weekend.

Danny Graham was given the opportunity many had wanted as he came in for just his third league start. Without a run of games under his belt, Graham struggled to get involved in general play, or provide much of a goalscoring threat.

Sam Gallagher was moved out to the right, but when a few rampaging runs down the right came to an end, he had little effect on the game, and failed to anticipate an Armstrong cross which would likely have given him a tap-in.

Mowbray likes going with wide strikers, but going with two, has the feel of being unbalanced. If Armstrong is the man to provide pace, and hopefully goals, from one flank, then the likes of Stewart Downing, Lewis Holtby and Joe Rothwell have to be in contention to offer craft from the other.

Rovers finished last season with Rothwell, Armstrong, Dack and Graham and won four games in six. This is a combination that has to be worth revisiting.



When Stewart Downing signed for Rovers, weeks before his 35th birthday, most imagined he would fulfil a similar role to that of Craig Conway, a model pro around the dressing room, coming in to the side when change was needed, and generally a good versatile option.

But 10 games in, he’s start nine of them and dispelled any fears of his age or fitness, and if anything, is becoming a growing influence on this team.

The main positive about Downing is that he is able to take the ball in tight areas and keep the ball moving. Nine times out of 10 he picks the right option, and more often than not, that’s a forward one.

The way he was able to stop counter-attacks was an unexpected bonus on being switched in to the middle of the park and proved a good foil for Lewis Travis.

Playing him in the deeper role provides Rovers with a more creative threat than they have had for some time, with Mowbray having previously preferred two more attritional players, whether it be Smallwood and Evans, Travis and Evans, Travis and Johnson, or further back, Lowe and Guthrie.



The integration of Lewis Holtby in to the Rovers team feels like that of Jack Payne. Now bear with me, a German international who has played in the Bundesliga, Holtby is undoubtedly a higher calibre player, but there are similarities.

Payne was signed to provide another option to Dack in the central attacking areas, but largely used coming in from the right flank, unable to displace Dack but a player Mowbray wanted to get in the team.

Holtby is unlikely to do that either, but looked promising in a short cameo in that No.10 role after two substitute appearances playing from the right against Reading and Luton.

It appears a matter of time before he gets his chance from the start, but most likely, that looks like coming off the right flank.

Kasey Palmer was another player signed to provide competition for Dack, but used out wide, and even up front. Joe Rothwell also would like to play that more central role that Dack seems to have nailed down.

Holtby, on fleeting viewings so far, looks a player who will be in the team more often than not moving forward, it’s just finding him a spot. When he plays from the right you won't get much natural width, his enthusiasm and energy sees him wanting to get involved at every given opportunity.

But Rovers can't hold him back for too much longer you feel.