Tony Mowbray believes ‘happy-go-lucky’ Bradley Dack will return to playing with even more enthusiasm as he continues his rehabilitation from a long-term knee injury.

Dack is approaching three months since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Wigan Athletic for which he underwent surgery.

The 26-year-old is working hard with first-team physio Ollie Waite on his rehabilitation and hopes to be back sooner than expected, setting a ninth month timeframe on his return to action.

For Mowbray, he is excited to see the way Dack has thrown himself in to his rehab, and says having his personality around the training ground, before it went in to lockdown, was a welcome boost.

But as well as his infectious personality, Mowbray hopes at 26, and with over 200 career appearances to his name, Dack will develop greater leadership skills through his time out of the game.

“I’m excited for him. He’s a long-term absentee, but he’ll come back with even more enthusiasm, if that’s even possible with him,” the manager said.

“As he gets older, he’s a senior player and needs to be that leader. There’s no reason why he can’t be that player who sets the standards.

“As a person and a footballer, hopefully he’ll have more responsibility.

“Hopefully we’ll see the happy-go-lucky kid who loves football and makes a massive impact for us next season.”

Dominic Samuel returned from the same injury as Dack at the beginning of the season and has leant his support to his team-mate, just as Elliott Bennett did for him.

Rovers also lost Greg Cunningham to an ACL injury in October, with the loanee having since returned to Cardiff City for treatment as his loan spell came to an end.

Mowbray believes the experience of others in overcoming the injury will be of benefit to Dack and while the player may be setting ambitious targets on his return, the manager admits ‘there are no shortcuts’.

“Dacky’s working really hard,” he told the club website.

“I get reports on a daily basis on him and he’s bubbly around the building, enjoying the work.

“He’s putting the work in, he’s setting himself targets and is vowing to come back stronger and better than ever, so let’s hope that’s the case.

“He’s turned it into a positive. Knowing Bradley, he’s probably spoken to a lot of people who have had his injury before and he’s put the hard work in.

“He’s buying into everything and is propelling his mind forward with dates and targets being set for his return.

“The medical department are supporting him and aren’t rushing him through the work, because there are no shortcuts when recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.”