Tony Mowbray believes the demands Lewis Holtby puts on himself have played a part in why the midfielder has been substituted in each of his three starts so far.

The boss has praised the professionalism of his free agent signing who made a third start of his Rovers career in the defeat at Leeds.

He operated in a deeper role than previously seen, and was replaced midway through the second half.

The 29-year-old had struggled with a sore hamstring last month, but Mowbray says Holtby is putting in extra work behind the scenes in a bid to ensure he’s firing on all cylinders for matchday.

“He’s an exceptionally fit guy but he’s conscious of his own body,” the boss told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“The 90 minutes, he hasn’t done that yet, the demands he puts on himself and the distance he covers is very high.

“I think we have to manage him through the week but he’s very professional.

“He’s taking in his own cryotherapy and is a very conscientious guy about his body, his fitness, and what he needs to do to get himself ready for a matchday.”

Mowbray was impressed with Holtby’s fitness levels when arriving at the club in September, despite not training with a professional club during the close season.

He made his debut in the win at Reading on September 21, just two days after signing, before three substitute outings against Luton, Nottingham Forest and QPR.

Holtby was rewarded with his first start against Huddersfield after the October international break, scoring once and claiming an assist, only to miss the defeats at Birmingham City and Preston with a sore hamstring.

He was back in the starting line-up for the win over Sheffield Wednesday and kept his place, albeit in a different position for the defeat at Leeds.

Holtby agreed a two-year deal with Rovers, having been a free agent since leaving Hamburg in the summer.