Stewart Downing will make career appearance No.600 against Fulham this weekend, his first came when Joe Rankin-Costello was just 20 months old.

Of the Rovers team that started the weekend game at Middlesbrough, just Downing at 35, and 29-year-old Lewis Holtby were the only players over the age of 25. That made for an average age of 24.5, lower than their average for the whole season of 25.9.

Some of that is down to consequence, with Bradley Dack, Corry Evans and Greg Cunningham, all out for the season, and at 26, 29 and 27 respectively, would have been certain starters were they fit.

But with Charlie Mulgrew, Elliott Bennett and Danny Graham, all previously regulars in the side and over the age of 30, now starting fewer matches, there is a younger look to the Rovers side.

And Mowbray admits there is a hope of creating a more athletic side, able to get through the work he’s looking for from his players, hence the move towards younger players.

“We’re trying to build a group who are athletic and do the physical data we’re looking for them to do and the technical football to play the want to play,” the manager explained.

“I think modern day football is a balance between physicality and technical patterns of how you play forward and the spaces you attack. That’s something we’re working hard with the team on repetitively to make it second nature.

“Ryan Nyambe, if he’s going to become good at crossing he’s got to do hundreds if not thousands of them over a period of time so then it becomes so he doesn’t even have to think when the ball is at his feet, he just whips it in because he’s done it on the training ground for weeks and months.

“The repetitive training of the brain to function how we want it to.

“Young players, you can teach them how we want them to play and training them in that method, you’ve got a chance.”

Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Lewis Travis and Rankin-Costello were four Academy graduates in the starting line-up at the Riverside, with John Buckley having also featured for the first-team this season.

Damien Johnson stepped up in the summer from Under-23s boss to first-team technical coach and works a lot with the young players, as does first-team coach David Lowe who was head of Academy coaching prior to Mowbray’s arrival.

Rovers have introduced touch screen technology at the club’s training base, and with all matches and training sessions filmed, players are encouraged to watch through their clips in the afternoons.

And Mowbray believes the young players in particular have bought in to the sessions.

He said: “A lot of that credit goes to the work that Damien Johnson and David Lowe do with him. Damien was brought in as a technical coach and David was head of Academy coaching when I arrived.

“They have an affinity with those young players, Damien coached them and David worked with them, and here they are in the first team set-up. They do a lot of individual work after training.

“We’re trying to create an education environment. A lot of video work, analysing situations, getting the players to buy in, and the coaches to talk to players about their opinions. If the players are part of the process then they’ll make it work better on the pitch.

“Every angle is covered, every training session is videoed and we do a lot of work on that. Players buy in to it because it’s their career and earning for the next 10, 12, 15 years.

“They want to do it, they’re not getting in their cars at 1pm and going home, they’re sitting in booths with the coaching staff and  going through every time they touch it, when the ball comes in their area, what they should do.

“It’s putting the pieces together and join the dots up for the team so they become more fluent and more of a threat at one end and mean at another.

“It’s great with the young players that they’re never out of there, it’s pleasing that the footballers are buying in to it but that’s how we’re trying to take the club forward.

“We’re wanting to make it a club that’s driven to educate and teach young players and hopefully there will be a conveyor belt achieve the club what they want to do first and foremost, but if not, become a financial benefit for the club to sell to reinvest to keep that cycle going and keep good players coming through.

“I understand the world we live in, everyone wants everything now, or yesterday. It’s difficult but we’re trying and working as hard as we can.”