Tony Mowbray believes Rovers’ play-off hopes have now drifted away from them and admits: ‘we’re not quite at that level yet’.

Rovers have slipped to 11th and eight points adrift of the top six after a run of three consecutive defeats following Saturday’s reverse at home to leaders Leeds United.

Mowbray’s side gave themselves hope with victory in their first game post lockdown, but three defeats on the spin leaves them with the prospect of another mid-table finish.

The Rovers boss is hoping to raise ambitions at Ewood Park, but admits they have fallen short this season because of their inconsistent form which has now seen them win just one of their last eight.

And Mowbray, who said the table won’t lie after 46 games, told the Lancashire Telegraph: “The reality is we are where we are and if we give our supporters a glimpse of extra hope by being a point off the play-offs then maybe it’s coming to fruition that we’re not quite at that level yet.

“That hope is now drifting away from us.”

Rovers haven’t been in the top six this season, but moved as close as they have all season with victory over Bristol City last month.

However, their hopes evaporated with defeats to Wigan, Barnsley and Leeds, with the aim for the remaining five matches to improve on last season’s haul of 60 points.

Rovers won six out of eight matches between November and December, and then took 13 points from a possible 18 between January and February, their best sequences of form this season.

However, a run of three defeats in a row for the first time since March 2019 means they have slipped out of the top six race.

On their inconsistent runs of form, Mowbray added: “It’s frustrating, but I know the reasons. I’ve been in the game a long time and I know where we are as a club. If we keep winning six on the bounce, and then win another six on the bounce, we’d be top of the table running away with it. We aren’t that good

“We have to fight and work for every point, we have some young, talented players who are learning and progressing, getting better, the balance between hitting them with a stick and putting your arm around them and cuddling them and loving them, all of that.

“As I’ve repeatedly tried to say, and it’s not a defence mechanism as a manager, I think you have to grow young players, unless they become superstars and are instant stick-on Premier League players and in the wrong league, you have to grow your footballers and build them up.

“You have to give them the confidence and belief and keep working on their positional play, put the demands on them every day and I think that’s where we are.

“We’re Blackburn Rovers, hopefully around the top 10 this year, but last year, 16th.

“The next year if we can keep improving and getting better, we have to get to a point where the only expectation is top six or top two.”

Rovers now have five more games remaining this season, starting with tomorrow’s trip to Cardiff City.

Second-placed West Brom are due at Ewood Park on Saturday, before a midweek trip to play-off chasing Millwall next midweek.

So things certainly don’t get any easier for Mowbray and his stretched squad, with the manager wanting to see more bravery in possession.

He added: “If you’re not brave and aggressive on the ball, you don’t win leagues, you don’t get out of leagues.

“We’re plodding around at the middle of the table right now, but I feel that since promotion from League One, that we’ve moved past plodding around the middle of the table.

“These players either want to come along with us as we attempt to get out of this division, attempt to finish first or second, and if we miss out then we finish  in the play-offs.

“You can’t get out of any division if you’re not aggressive and playing on the front foot both home and away.

“That’s what I’m trying to create, that’s the team I want, an aggressive one that plays on the front foot.

“It’s trying to get the players to believe that and to take it onto the grass every week."