Darragh Lenihan has benefited from his role as Rovers’ leader, according to Tony Mowbray.

The 26-year-old has been an influential figure for Rovers this season who have won 13 of the 29 matches he has started, and claimed all their clean sheets with the Irishman in the heart of the defence. Rovers have won just one of the eight matches he has missed, with Lenihan unavailable for suspension for the recent 2-2 draw with Swansea and 3-0 defeat at Derby.

Lenihan should be preparing for Republic of Ireland’s play-off match with Slovakia, but that has been postponed until June because of the on-going coronavirus pandemic.

At club level, Mowbray says Lenihan has demonstrated his influence and ability, leading him to captain the side for much of the last three months. The manager said: “I’ve obviously known Darragh for three years now, I think he’s matured a lot.

“He now sees himself I think as a team leader, and I think he’s only getting stronger and better and taking more responsibility.

“He understands how we play and the processes that we go through and what we expect of the team and he tries to take them onto the grass for the team to follow instruction without me having to be red in the face shouting on the sidelines all the time.

“I think every good team needs people who make the processes happen on the grass, demand of the players around them and keep the game-plan moving forward and Darragh definitely does that for us.”

Lenihan was due to be named in Mick McCarthy’s squad for their play-off match in Slovakia, but that, as well as Euro 2020, has now been pushed back.

The central defender has two caps to his name, but missed the squads in September and October because of injury.

He faces a tough job to get in the starting line-up, with several options for McCarthy in his squad.

But Lenihan doesn’t see his as a hard luck story, adding: “I don’t think so. The position I’m playing in is a very tough one to get into in the Irish team, you have the likes of (Shane) Duffy, (John) Egan, (Ciaran) Clark, Kevin Long, who are all playing in the Premier League.

“I just need to play well for my club, put in the performances there and hopefully catch the eye of Mick McCarthy and his coaching staff. That’s all I can control. If I get picked then great, but if not I will just keep working hard and try to force my way into the squad.

“It’s your dream to play for your country. You grow up watching all the games, and then to play for your country is a proud moment for myself and my family.”

With Charlie Mulgrew having been loaned out to Wigan at the start of the season, and since frozen out of the first-team picture, Elliott Bennett took on the armband.

However, he has found it hard to get in the starting XI of late, with Mowbray entrusting Lenihan with the armband.

And he says that is only helping to bring on his game, as he continues to gain experience having turned 26 last week.

“I think it improves my performance having that extra responsibility. Not only that, but you’re not only thinking of your own, but everyone else’s as well to keep encouraging them and keep positive, especially in bad times,” he told the national press in Ireland.

“I do like that type of responsibility, but we have other senior pros in the club who have been brilliant for me, helping me develop my game.

“I just have to do well for Blackburn and if Mick McCarthy is impressed, hopefully he can bring me in.”