Greg Cunningham revealed the devastating news that he faces ‘a number of months’ out with a knee ligament injury. But where will Tony Mowbray turn now? Rich Sharpe assess his options.



The most likely option would be for a straight swap at left back, as was the case at QPR when Cunningham was forced off, that Amari’i Bell comes straight in.

Bell has started three matches already this season, as well as coming off the bench last weekend, and his 38 appearances in 2018/19 were the most of any of the club’s defenders.

Signed in January 2018, Bell is yet to fully convince. A smooth runner with the ball, and possessing excellent athletic attributes, he has at times been indecisive with his defending, and final pass.

But he is in to the final year of his contract, and must see this as his chance to cement a place in the team.



Rovers have already done so on one occasion this season, the 2-0 win over Millwall, and would have again at Reading were it not for the late withdrawal of Tosin Adarabioyo, and that is go with a three-man defence.

It would help to accommodate, when all fit, Tosin Adarabioyo, Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams, with ready-made wing-backs in the form of Elliott Bennett and Bell.

But ensuring that all three centre backs are fit at the same time isn’t a luxury Mowbray has been afforded too often, with Adarabioyo having started just twice this season, Williams absent for much of pre-season, and Lenihan’s diagnosis not yet known after he limped off at QPR.

It is a formation Mowbray feels can work, but will rely on his central defenders staying fit, with no other senior options in that position.



Williams stated his intention that he wanted to focus on being a central defender this season after a summer chat with Mowbray. It is something Williams admits he would have regretted had he not done so, and he’s been in excellent form so far this season, earning a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.

His natural home for much of his career has been in central defence, despite playing much of football for Rovers at left back.

It’s not a position he has played much of late though, finishing last season in central defence alongside Lenihan, with his own injury troubles seeing Bell play much of last season at left back.

Williams doesn’t feel he can do the job aerobically as easily as before, and while he would be a more solid defensive option, it would seem unlikely for him to move across.



Both Bell and Williams were absent for spells in pre-season, which meant Sam Hart got an unexpected run in the side.

Hart hasn’t played for Rovers since December 2017 having since had three separate spells out on loan. He was primed for a fourth in the summer, before catching Mowbray’s eye, but then injury ended any possible hopes of a move after Cunningham’s arrival that pushed him back down the pecking order.

Has been getting back up to speed with games for the Under-23s, but given the length of time since his last Rovers appearance, and yet to kick a ball in the Championship, it would be a brave move to throw him straight in.

The same would go for Stewart Downing, who finished the friendly at Rangers, and played much of the win at Blackpool, at left back.

Mowbray has touched on Downing’s versatility, and did earmark that as a position, as well as a wing-back, but given the impact he’s made further up the pitch, you would have to think it unlikely.



It was likely a position Mowbray was relaxed about, unless there were fears about Cunningham being recalled by Cardiff at the turn of the year, with the Irishman having impressed since coming in, and Bell in reserve.

However, longer-term, Rovers would have been drawing up plans, with Cunningham having been only on a season-long loan, and Bell in to the final year of his deal.

They will likely assess their options heading in to the January window, that is just under 12 weeks away, and see how things go in the meantime filling in for a position that Cunningham would likely have made his own.

Cunningham and Tosin Adarabioyo were Rovers’ sole defensive additions in the summer, and this injury news may have just boosted another up the January priority list.