A search for a better balance in midfield was Tony Mowbray’s reasoning for the formation switch in the win over Bristol City – with the manager hinting the 4-3-3 could be here to stay.

Mowbray named his 30th different starting XI of the season on Rovers’ return to action with new roles for Stewart Downing, who operated as the deepest-lying midfield player, and Lewis Holtby, as a false No.9.

While Downing was flanked by the industry of Lewis Travis and Corry Evans, the willing runners of Sam Gallagher and Ben Brereton played either side of Holtby, starting his first match since February.

The formation gave Rovers greater control, having been overrun in the central areas in the last Championship outing, against Derby County, before lockdown struck.

Downing finished the match at left back, after injury to Joe Rankin-Costello, but his ability to pick forward passes could see him remain in the centre of the park at the DW Stadium today, despite the issues at full back.

“I think we are trying to get the right balance in our midfield really. If you think of the attributes of some of our players we’re trying to put them together and find a chemistry that works,” Mowbray explained.

“I don’t want to go in to it too deeply but it’s about who wins it, who breaks it down, who passes it forward. Football is a chemistry and a mixture of all of those things.

“The best teams have that balance.

“Premier League teams at the top end, their players can generally do everything.

“Their strikers can defend from the front, their midfielders can destroy but also play forward fantastically well, their defenders can defend but pass it from the back.

“The top players can generally do a bit of everything. The further down you go the more you tend to pigeon-hole players as ball-winners, or creative, or runners.

“We’re just trying to find the balance that suits this team with the personnel we’ve got available.

“When Bradley Dack was fit we played him in his strongest position, he played as a No.10 in behind a striker that was like the spear at the top of the team and then had technical players come in on their strongest foot or we had them running down the outside with speed.

“The system last week suited the players we had available, and against the opposition we were playing we felt it was the right thing to do.”

The increased number of substitutes permitted to managers allowed Mowbray to change his entire front three midway through the second half, including the introduction of top scorer Adam Armstrong who scored his 13th of the season in the 3-1 win.

He was left on the bench having been forced to miss 10 days of training after testing positive for Covid-19 earlier this month, but is expected to start this afternoon.And so too could Danny Graham, possibly in the Holtby role, as Rovers look to back up their win over Bristol City against Wigan.

“There will be some chopping and changing, as you saw last week we changed the front three and I think we have some options now,” Mowbray added.

“(Dominic) Samuel is now super fit and looks a threat, in training he’s been very good, Armstrong didn’t even start the game, we have good options.

“Danny Graham we’re trying to re-design him as a footballer and hopefully he’s really enjoying the role we’re giving him and he progresses in the last few games.

“What I like about Danny is that he’s so positive and is the fittest that I’ve seen him in my three years.