With nine games to go, this would usually be the time to consider who could win Rovers’ top gong for the 2019/20 season. And while there remains plenty of uncertain over when those games will be played, reporter Rich Sharpe has a look at the runners and riders for the player of the season prize



His fitness record has been exceptional once again at a time when Rovers have struggled with injuries in the forward areas, featuring in all but one match in the last two seasons.

The number, and quality of goals, has been impressive, 11 in the Championship as well as one in the FA Cup defeat to Birmingham City will see him end the campaign as Rovers’ top scorer.

He has had something of a goal of the season competition with himself, four long-range strikes against Reading, Derby, QPR and Hull, the latter being the pick of the bunch.

Since the start of December the 23-year-old has contributed nine goals and four assists, helping to catapult Rovers in to the top six mix, including a brace in the recent 2-2 draw with Brentford.

He’s been given more of a run in his preferred central area, and has been Rovers’ main goal threat since the season-ending injury to Bradley Dack.

Is improving all the time, and in terms of goal return, this has been a particularly good breakout year for a player whose form hasn’t gone unnoticed, attracting attention in January that will only intensify should he continue turning in such performances.



A free agent signing after leaving Middlesbrough last summer, Downing has been something of a surprise package for supporters given the quality, and number, of his performances.

Only Barry Bannan (79) and Matheus Pereira (84) have managed more key passes than Downing’s 78 this season, while only six players in the division have contributed more assists than his seven.

Of Rovers’ outfield players, only Armstrong and Travis have played more than his 34, 32 of them coming from the start, in a variety of positions.

He impressed at left back following the loss of Greg Cunningham and Derrick Williams to injury in November and December, and his creativity and experience has been invaluable when used in the creative area of the pitch. 

Has kept himself in top condition throughout the season, not missing a match all year through injury, and played all but 25 minutes of the last 13 matches.

Extending his stay at Ewood Park for a further 12 months would prove a universally popular move for the 35-year-old whose appetite for the game remains as strong as ever.

Downing reigniting his passion and love for the game has been a real standout of the season so far.



The Irishman has started 29 of Rovers’ 37 matches, winning 13 and featuring in all 12 clean sheets that Rovers have managed, matching the tally from last season already.

Without him, they’ve taken just four points from eight matches, conceding 16 goals in the process.

Those numbers just go to demonstrate his influence on the side, one he’s captained on 12 occasions, and continue the theme from last season where Rovers look a much stronger beast with Lenihan in the side.

He has also popped up with three goals during a five-game period and his physicality, and leadership, at the back have been key to Rovers’ improved defensive record, form that has boosted his international credentials with the Republic of Ireland.

Now 26, Lenihan would have had his eyes on a spot in the Euro 2020 squad, had first Ireland qualified, and the tournament gone ahead.

Tosin Adarabioyo has impressed during his loan spell from Manchester City, but has looked much more assured with Lenihan alongside him, and Mowbray believes that partnership certainly has top six potential.

Would Rovers have crumbled under the physical pressure of Preston North End in the Deepdale defeat in November should Lenihan have been available? It would have been unlikely.

Unfortunately for Rovers his two game suspension, which he served in the 0-0 draw with Swansea and defeat at Derby, came at just the wrong time, further highlighting how much of a key man he is.

How long they can hold on to him remains another question, but there are few more influential players in the squad.



Has started the fewest number of matches of any of the other contenders, with 23 starts to his name, but is still deserving of his spot in the shortlist.

By far the most improved player of his squad, something which has been credited due to his own hard work on and off the pitch, staying out after hours on the training pitch and in the analysis booth alongside coach Damien Johnson.

Has matured as a player and a person over the course of the season, aided by his time away with the Namibia national team, which has certainly seen him blossom.

Found himself out of the team at the start of the season but has started all but three matches since the October international break, and been a driving force from right back, with Rovers missing his breaks forward during a stint at centre half in the last two matches.

Got a first assist in professional football in the draw with Swansea, and securing him on a longer contract will become a pressing priority for Rovers in the coming months.

Many questioned why he wasn’t in the side at the start of the season, with the man himself admitting that it would be difficult to get the right back shirt off Elliott Bennett.

But an improved fitness record, and his form, make him one of the first names on the teamsheet.



A third Academy graduate in the list shows how Rovers’ homegrown players have really stood up over the course of the season.

Has missed just one game through injury, as well as being surprising left out for the away defeat to Preston in October, playing recent weeks with a broken hand.

Has become something of a pantomime villain in away games at times this season, and while at times that has detracted from his performance, his all-action style has been a key asset to the side.

Has added goals to his game, with strikes against Luton and Middlesbrough showing a willingness to get forward when necessary, and after losing the comfort blanket of Corry Evans alongside him, has really blossomed in to a leader in the side, despite his tender age.

Energy levels and commitment can never be faulted, and his pass success rate is among the highest in the squad, an area in which his game has improved, but still one he gets criticised for by some.

Was last year’s young player of the year and will be right in the mix for the top prize this time around, and one of many that Mowbray will hope to build his side around in the coming years.