There was an outpouring of emotion as Dominic Samuel celebrated his first goal since December 2017 in the win over Hull City.

The attacker has had to battle back from a 13-month absence with a cruciate knee ligament but is hoping to use that experience to help close friend Bradley Dack in his rehabilitation from the same injury.

Samuel sustained his cruciate injury in August 2018 against Reading at Ewood Park, returning to senior action the following September, and said the support of team-mate Elliott Bennett, another victim of an ACL earlier in his career, proved invaluable.

And the 25-year-old is ready to offer the same level of support to Dack who faces months on the sidelines having undergone surgery late in 2019 on his cruciate knee ligament picked up in the 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic on December 23.

“I’ve been saying to him the most important thing with an injury like this is to stay patient,” Samuel said.

“Quite a few boys have had it and he’s had players like me and Elliott Bennett who’ve been through that and can help him and guide him.

“With an injury like that you have to stay patient and positive.

“Sometimes with injuries like that you can’t do it by yourself, you have to ask for help and for people’s opinions on what the best thing to do is during each period.

“Asking someone who has been through it, like Benno did for me, can help you quite a lot.”

Since returning to fitness, with minutes for the Under-23s, Samuel has had to be patient for his opportunity which has come about with Rovers having been hit by an injury crisis in the forward areas.

But having been through the mental struggle of a long-term injury, he believes he come out the other end with a more positive mindset and is now looking to make the most of any more chances that come his way.

“It’s very difficult. The first two or three months I found it very hard because there were some days where you felt your knee was fine but you weren’t training,” he explained.

“There are some days when your knee could have no swelling on it but then the next day swelling can come just from doing a bit in the gym with the physios.

“Automatically you start think negatively, but from speaking to people who’ve been through it they will tell you there’s times where your knee will be fine, but others when it will swell up.

“But if you can speak to enough people that can help you get your head around it you’ll be fine.”

Much of Samuel’s time on the sidelines was spent working with the Rovers medical staff alongside Ben Gladwin who was overcoming three separate knee operations and had been out since November 2017.

Gladwin left Rovers at the end of 2019, when back fit, and subsequently signed for League One side MK Dons after two-and-a-half years out.

The attacker dedicated his first goal in three years to the medical staff at Brockhall, having netted in a win over Wycombe earlier this month. And Samuel, whose goal on Tuesday night ended a 27 month wait, says there is always light at the end of the tunnel

“That’s what can happen with football in just a few months,” said Samuel, whose goal came in his 100th career league appearance.

“Ben Gladwin was out for two months, since he signed he’s been injured, but football has turned around for him and everyone here is happy for him.

“Personally I’m happy for him because I was there injured with him, I happened to get back before him but he’s back playing regularly which just shows that you should never give up in football and things can change.

“It just shows, especially when you’ve been out for a while and waiting for your time to come, you’ve got to keep thinking positive and keep working hard, and the time will come when your hard work will pay off, and it showed.

“That’s the good thing about football, if you put your mind to something and you keep working hard, you’re going to get the results, and I’m happy I got one.”

Samuel will be eyeing a first competitive start since the opening day of the 2018/19 season at Charlton this afternoon having come off the bench as part of a double switch on Tuesday that helped turn the game in Rovers’ favour.

He made substitute appearances in games with Luton, Nottingham Forest and Fulham, all at Ewood, before the goal against Hull, and is now hoping for more opportunities. And he’s feeling in a good place, both mentally and physically heading in to the final 14 games.

He added: “The knee is good, I feel fit, I feel good, I feel strong so hopefully I can injury free.

“Before the injury I didn’t feel as physically strong as I do now. When I’ve been getting on I’ve felt more confident because I’ve felt stronger and in a better place than before I was before the injury so it does have its perks being out for that long.

“I’ve not always been one to be in the gym, working on my legs and things like that, but through injuries, like the one I had, it’s just made me more determined to get stronger and quicker.

“It’s made me more mature. It’s turned me into more of a man and made me take more responsibility in terms of getting myself fit and keeping myself strong.

With 14 games of the season to go, and out of contract in the summer, Samuel’s future will be up for discussion in the coming months, and there was the possibility of him leaving on loan in January. But given his recent return from injury, he is focusing on the here and now, rather than the long-term future.

“I’m not trying to think that far ahead because in football things can change within a week or a day,” he said.

“I’m not trying to think that far ahead, just take each day and week as they come and see what happens.”