For just the second time in his Rovers career, Ben Brereton made consecutive starts, albeit there were 104 days inbetween the defeat at Derby and last weekend’s win over Bristol City.

But the attacker, who turned 21 during lockdown, is hoping to have an impact in Rovers’ bid for the play-offs in the remaining games, and find that elusive first goal of the season.

There was a new look at Ewood on Saturday, and not just Brereton’s impressive beard, with a new-look 4-3-3 formation, and matches being played behind closed doors.

Brereton impressed from the left. He looked fit, strong, and full of running, and also not bound by the pressure of having gazing eyes watching on from the stands.

However, the £6m attacker admits that scrutiny won’t just disappear with no fans inside the stadium.

“We’d rather fans, it’s what we live for, we live for the adrenaline and the fans, and without them it’s going back to when you were in the Under-18s, Under-20s, Under-23s, when you have no fans there,” Brereton explained.

“You can say it’s more relaxed but you’re playing for the team, it’s a game, it’s competitive.

“The fans aren’t there but they’re watching from home so there’s no place for hiding.

“When the crowd are there they get you up for it but the players have to deal with it and I think we did at the weekend. We were all at it.

“We have to get ourselves motivated to do that week in, week out.”

Brereton was replaced just after the hour mark, as Rovers took advantage of their ability to make five substitutes, by switching their entire front three.

That saw the introduction of Adam Armstrong who within 10 minutes of his arrival added a 13th goal of what’s becoming an increasingly productive season.

The pair are close friends, and Brereton hopes the development of his fellow former England youth international is one he can follow.

“It’s a brilliant thing to have someone like Arma, your top scorer on the bench and he came on and scored again. When you have someone like him, Danny Graham, Dom Samuel, impact players who can come on late in the game it’s a good thing to have.

“Arma is a great player, we’ve seen that with his goalscoring record this season, and his performances have been brilliant.

“He’s someone that’s really pushed on this season and really shown what he can do.

“He trains hard, a great lad, everyone gets on with him and he’s helping push the team on and scoring some vital goals, he’s brilliant to have in the team.”

Since his 2018 switch from Nottingham Forest, Brereton has struggled to find a home in the team.

A potential long-term replacement for Bradley Dack in the No.10 role, or the heir to Danny Graham’s centre forward throne have been suggested for Brereton – but it was in a ‘wide striker’ role as part of a new-look front three which served him well at the weekend.

Brereton is part of a crop of young players who the club are hoping to grow together,  with the conundrum for boss Tony Mowbray to find a formula that will allow them to thrive.

“I felt like it was a good formation, we were compact out of possession, in possession me and Gally (Sam Gallagher) were making runs in behind, Holtby was linking with the midfielders, the full backs were pushing on, I felt like it was fluid and a great performance,” he added. “Out of possession we stayed compact, everyone put in a shift and I felt it was really good. The togetherness from the starting line-up and the bench was brilliant.

“We have done a lot of stuff in training about it and it’s been good. The lads have bought in to the way we’re going to play.

“It’s been a long time since we played but all the lads came back fit so that was a good start, we’ve done some work on shape, technical stuff, and all the lads are raring to go for the last few games and see what can happen.”

Victory moved Rovers to within one point of the top six ahead of Saturday’s trip to Wigan.

Brereton will be eyeing another start, and was in a positive and enthusiastic frame of mind during the online Zoom call. He’s optimistic about Rovers’ chances, albeit rolling out the ‘one game at a time’ cliche.

“I’ve come back fit and hopefully I can get some minutes, goals, some assists, and help the team to get where we want to be and that’s the Premier League,” he said.

“We have to win games one by one and hopefully we can keep doing that and move forward.

“It’s a great club and I’m happy to be here, the lads and the coaching staff are brilliant, I feel positivity around the training ground and we have to keep going, keep working hard. It’s a great position to be in.”

And so to the moment where Brereton was asked to relive the moment his luck was out, five minutes in to the second half of Saturday’s win.

“I anticipated it going to the keeper, got there before him, but the ball I knocked past him was just behind me, so I had to try and turn quickly and I rolled my ankle,” he recalled, before breaking in to a chuckle.

“First game back in a few months back, I was happy, felt sharp, felt good. It was a good start to coming back to football.”