Tony Mowbray has stressed the importance of keeping the Rovers squad together for the remaining matches this season - believing an off-field togetherness is worth the extra expenditure.

Stewart Downing, Danny Graham, Dominic Samuel and Jayson Leutwiler were all in the squad for the Bristol City win, and along with Richie Smallwood and Sam Hart, have seen their deals extended until after Rovers' final match of the season.

Extensions had to be secured, with their original deals set to run out on June 30, with talks about longer extensions on hold.

Downing, Graham and Leutwiler have been ever-presents in the squad, while Samuel has come in to the reckoning since returning from a long-term knee injury. However, Smallwood hasn't played a league game since April 2019 and last appeared in a matchday squad 10 months ago.

But the manager believes the financial outlay of extending his stay for a further month is money well spent for the what the 29-year-old year, a popular figure in the dressing room, brings to the group.

“I just wanted to keep the squad together – so whether people had played or not played, what the general public don’t see if the impact that certain individuals have on a dressing room," Mowbray explained.

“Whether or not they’re in the team, how big a personality and character are they? It’s important to keep them all on board in my view, not to get wrapped up in contract or out-of-contract.

“Yet if the players had an issue I’d be fully respectful of that, if players didn’t want to play because they thought they might get injured when they’re out of contract and I’d have understood.

“But that hasn’t been the case with us, everyone is happy to extend until the season is finished and we’re happy for that season to arise.”

While a number of clubs have had players unwilling to see out the season, while out of contract, Mowbray never foresaw any issues with his squad.

He added: “I can only talk about our club and my initial thought when we discussed it with our board members maybe a month or so ago was that I would like to keep the squad together.

“We started a journey together, we have to finish the journey together.

“People don’t see how influential people are, or not, in our dressing room, and whether they’re playing or not the impact on the dressing room would be huge.

“If you just cast someone aside to save a few a quid, that wouldn’t be the right thing to do in my mind, keep the group together, finish the season as we started the season, with this group, and we can make decision after that.

“We’ll make some decisions , but there are some grey areas. How long until we start next season? When is the transfer window? How long will it stay open?

“I just give them the options and in their minds there was never a question they were all happy to stay and see the season out.

“There were no promises from me on anything, we will see when we get our budgets what we can afford. We might offer some contracts out but on reduced terms, of they budgets are the same we might offer the same deals, some might move, let’s wait and see.”

“For me the best way has always been honesty, man to man, and that’s what they got.”

The situation with full back Hart, who hasn't played since December 2017 and had  four separate spells out on loan, is a little different.

While Rovers are short of options at left back, with injuries to Amari'i Bell and Derrick Williams, with Joe Rankin-Costello filling in against Bristol City, the 23-year-old is unavailable to play having featured for loan club Shrewsbury Town in the second half of the season.

Lewis Thompson, who has penned a 12-month extension to his contract, is available, given his loan spell was outside the EFL, having spent time at AFC Fylde.

The 20-year-old has been training with the first-team squad and could be called upon if required.