TONY Mowbray conceded it was a “big ask” for Joe Rankin-Costello to make his mark in Rovers’ defeat to Fulham.

The 20-year-old was handed a first senior start at Ewood Park against the Cottagers seven days on from making his maiden Championship start in the draw at Middlesbrough.

Having played out wide on Teeside, the versatile youngster shifted inside to the No.10 role against Fulham in a bid to help fill the void left by Lewis Holtby’s injury.

The one change from the Boro draw saw Bradley Johnson drafted into the middle of midfield, freeing up Stewart Downing to play on the left wing.

While Rankin-Costello was busy, he was part of a Rovers attack that mustered just one shot on target all afternoon, before being replaced 20 minutes from time. 

“He had to do a job for us today that was all,” Mowbray said of the academy product’s performance.

“It’s not necessarily his position.

“He’s a very flexible who can play anywhere really, right back, left wing, right wing, No.10.

“He’s just a young boy whose got some good physical attributes.

“It was a big ask to go and play against Fulham who were in the Premier League last year having spent £120million.”

Rankin-Costello's senior debut came in the Checkatrade Trophy back in September 2017, and after spending a year out injured, he made his second as a substitute in the league cup defeat at Sheffield United in August.

He was then handed a first Championship appearance off the bench in the 5-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday last month, the Fulham display his fifth outing of the season in all.

The former Manchester United youngster signed a new two-year contract last April.