If we have learned anything about Tony Mowbray and his transfer targets, it’s that he’s willing to play the waiting game. And so to the curious case of Rovers’ goalkeeping department, and what happens next.

What we know for definite is that Rovers require a new goalkeeper, and more than likely two, when the transfer window re-opens again.

Rovers have known that for some time, not least since agreeing a season-long deal with Brighton for Christian Walton, an ever present between the sticks this season.

There was never a permanent clause in the deal that brought the 24-year-old to Ewood Park, and Brighton are set to offer the former England youth international a new deal on his return to the AMEX Stadium where they see him as part of their first-team plans.

Walton came through a sticky patch towards the end of last year and in 2020 has proved to be a solid performer and can reflect on a positive season thus far.

Though, after David Raya was sold to Brentford last summer, in a deal worth an initial £3m, there was some surprise when it was Walton, a loan signing and the same experience and age to the Spaniard, who was the man to replace him.

That came after Rovers’ exhaustive goalkeeper search saw them miss out on several permanent, overseas options.

“We lost a few goalies that were pretty far down the line in the negotiations, foreign goalkeepers,” said Mowbray, “A couple fell through that was disappointing, because we liked them and it would have been a decent deal with the money we got for David.”

Jayson Leutwiler saw the 12-month option in his contract taken up, keeping him at the club for the 2019/20 season. But with the Canadian likely to seek regular first-team football, after three years as a No.2, Rovers will likely need back-up to whoever wears the No.1 shirt next season.

For all Raya’s quality and showreel saves, there was also a vulnerability that came with over-exuberance and the fact he was still in the infancy of his Championship career, though Rovers' improved defensive record this season hasn't simply been a result of changing their goalkeeper.

Mowbray has stressed throughout his time in charge that chopping and changing in goal isn’t his preference. So while it was to some surprise that Raya was left out of the final four games of the 2018/19 season, it proved to be the beginning of the end for the Spaniard who, along with Charlie Mulgrew, were the two casualties of last year's poor defensive record.

It was Mowbray’s comments during Raya’s absence that led to the expectation of seeing an experienced goalkeeper arriving.

“At this moment though I think this team needs some experience behind it and a goalkeeper who has been there, seen it and done it and hopefully can help the defensive unit keep some more clean sheets,” the Rovers boss said.

Frank Fielding, Karl Darlow Bartosz Bialkowski and Scott Carson were all names linked with a move, and all ticked the experience box.

Then, in January, came Rovers’ first links to Scotland international stopper Jon McLaughlin, moving in to the final months of his deal at League One side Sunderland.

It was always expected that Rovers would have to bide their time in the pursuit of McLaughlin, with the Black Cats always unlikely to want to lose a regular in their side amid their promotion push.

Joe Rothwell, Amari'i Bell and Sam Gallagher were all identified several windows before finally securing their Ewood moves, and the same fate could befall McLaughlin.

In normal circumstances, clubs would now be identifying possible free agent signings, but that has been clouded somewhat by the coronavirus shutdown.

McLaughlin’s contract with Sunderland runs until June 30, but the uncertainty over the League One season, particularly in the promotion race, complicates things further, with the possibility of Phil Parkinson’s side being involved in a possible play-off campaign.

Sunderland have understandably made their intentions known when it comes to trying to keep McLaughlin, boss Phil Parkinson saying: “When the chairman is ready, he will deal with that situation. Jon’s recent record puts him up there as one of the best in this division. He is calm, and has a lot of experience. Jon’s 32, which is no age for goalkeeper at all. You almost say that goalkeepers get to their peak around their early 30s.”

Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald said he tried to instigate contract talks last summer, but lays the blame behind those falling through at the door of McLaughlin’s agent.

“Jon is probably one of the best-paid goalies in the league so when you renegotiate that you know he probably deserves a bit more money and a longer-term deal but for that you expect to be protected if somebody comes in. You don’t do a deal that says this person gets loads more money and then can go for free and I think his agent didn’t quite start the negotiation off right,” Donald said last August.

However, the football landscape has certainly changed since then, not least the possibility of another season in League One for Sunderland, and the financial impact of that.

And Rovers too, where previously they may have seen a seven-figure fee on an overseas goalkeeper as sound business, they may be focused more on the free agent and loan market given the level of finance required just to see the club through this period.

The twice-capped Scotland international has played in the Championship before, 43 games during the 2016/17 season with Burton Albion, but brushed aside talks about his future, in an interview with the Edinburgh News this month, stating: “we haven't made any concrete plans or thought too hard about it,"

Rovers (socially) distanced themselves from the latest reports that a move was close, but in an uncertain world, there is a clear need for Rovers to address their goalkeeping department.

Questions are easy, solutions are harder, and Rovers won't just be pinning their hopes on one option, but a move for McLaughlin would tick plenty of boxes.