Corry Evans said there were no psychological scars to overcome as he starred on his first appearance since undergoing extensive facial surgery in January.

Evans suffered a fracture in his skull, as well as broken eye socket and nose, against Preston five months ago but was back in the Rovers side, and among the goals, in the 3-1 win over Bristol City.

That boosted Rovers’ play-off hopes as they came from behind to win for just a second time in 26 months with Tosin Adarabioyo and Adam Armstrong also on the scoresheet. There had been fears about the lasting psychological damage that such an injury – caused when receiving a blow to the head – would cause in the long-term for the Northern Ireland international.

But after getting the all-clear from his surgeon, Evans pushed on with his recovery and says the lockdown actually delayed his return.

He said: “Personally it felt really good, after the injury I’ve had it was nice to be back on a football pitch.

“It would’ve probably been quicker were it not for the current pandemic.

“I was told 12 weeks, I did it on January 11, so I had targeted to try and get back before the end of the season, two or three games, and this little break has helped.”

Evans was due to go back for a check-up in April, but with all of his scans clear, he was given the go-ahead to return to action.

Manager Tony Mowbray had questioned whether the psychological, rather than physical, damage caused by the injury would be longer lasting for Evans, but the midfielder shrugged off any of those fears.

“It was more people telling me! It was the first thing they mentioned, ‘how are you going to head the ball again?’,”he added.

“I was quickly reassured when it happened it wasn’t career threatening and I would get back to normal.

“The surgeons just saw it as a broken bone and that just eased my mind as bones heal. Thankfully it has.”

Evans hadn’t scored in the league for Rovers since November 2015, and hadn’t scored in any competition since August 2017. He had to rack his brains to remember his strike at Coventry, but didn’t downplay the importance of his equaliser moments after the visitors had taken the lead.

He added: “I managed to get a goal as well which is always nice.

“It was really important, a great win as well, I thought we played really well. I thought we looked solid and hard to break down and obviously with that threat on the bench.

“Going forward with the nine substitutes it will impact games a lot more, particularly for teams chasing the game.

“We’ve got a good squad here, the manager has created healthy competition throughout and we drive each other every day.

“The subs made the impact how he was looking for.”

Evans says he was able to use the time out effectively, working on his fitness to get himself in the best shape possible for when he could return, and revealed he has been working alongside Bradley Dack during lockdown.

“I was able to keep fit, I saw it as a chance to get in the gym and work and improve on things that I’ve never really been able to do playing Saturday and Tuesday in the Championship, because then it’s more about recovery and hard to fit in the gym time,” he explained.

“That has allowed me to get fitter and stronger throughout lockdown and I’ve come back fitter than ever before and I’m pleased all the work has paid off.

“Myself and Bradley were injured at the same time and worked alongside each other to improve ourselves and I felt the rewards of it. I felt strong and fitter.”

For Evans, a regular in the Championship and with over 50 caps for his country, he’s been used to playing in front of large crowds.

But while the lack of atmosphere was surreal, it wasn’t his first taste of playing in a match without supporters present.

He said: “It was strange. It was a bit eerie, but I had experienced that before.

“We played a qualifier for Northern Ireland away in Serbia, about nine years ago, so I had my first experience of it back then.

“It’s a mental thing you have to get through and I thought we coped well with that.”