Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out three talking points from the FA Cup defeat at Birmingham City. 


Jayson Leutwiler got the nod for the cup competition once again, his third appearance of the season.

Christian Walton was able to play, as part of the loan agreement with Brighton, but with Andrew Fisher back from his loan spell at Northampton, he was back in the squad as Walton enjoyed a rare afternoon off.

Walton gave away a penalty in the defeat at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day and despite eight clean sheets this season, has struggled to convince he’s been an upgrade on David Raya.

Leutwiler has been unable to usurp him, and with this just a 13th appearance since signing in August 2017, has firmly been second choice throughout his time at the club.

Rovers’ failure to add a permanent goalkeeper to their ranks in the summer meant he was retained, but from his fleeting appearances so far, doesn’t look capable of becoming a No.1 in the Championship.

He was at fault for Sheffield United’s opening goal in the Carabao Cup defeat in August, and didn’t cover himself in glory for Birmingham’s winner, somehow allowing Jeremie Bela’s cross to find a way beyond him.

Mowbray will definitely be considering his long-term options in goal, but whether he will address it in January remain to be seen.



With Danny Graham ruled out through illness, Rovers were without six senior players, and youngsters Joe Grayson, Joe Rankin-Costello and Dan Butterworth.

Elliott Bennett made that tally double figures when limping out in the first half with an Achilles problem as the festive schedule continues to take its toll.

Rovers will hope to have Ryan Nyambe back for the visit of Preston, and will this week monitor knocks to Corry Evans and Lewis Holtby as well as Graham’s illness.

But having headed in to what looked an enticing fixture list, Rovers have drawn two and lost three, and senior a fully fit squad looked stretched.

Additions and departures in January will be linked, but Rovers can ill-afford to let people go before either players return from injury, or come through the arrivals door.



Most of the headlines around the FA Cup weekend likely won’t focus on upsets but rather the long-term future of the competition and how many changes manager’s chose to make.

Rovers rather bucked the trend, with Tony Mowbray true to his word by making just three changes.

The cup game was Rovers’ fifth in 13 days, and a packed schedule for sides always meant players were always likely to be rested.

The schedule over the festive period has been criticised, and following it with the FA Cup third round is hardly a glowing endorsement of where its priority lies.

And the fact that Birmingham needed to open just one-and-a-half stands for the game showed all you need to know about where this competition lies for both sides.