Tony Mowbray revealed ‘confidence levels’ had a part to play in his decision to leave Ryan Nyambe out of the side for the defeat at Millwall on Tuesday night.

Nyambe had missed the Bristol City win last month through injury, and has had hamstring issues in the past, but Mowbray said fitness wasn’t the only reason for leaving out the 22-year-old of the starting line-up.

It was the first time since September the 22-year-old has been in the squad, but not started a match, with captain Elliott Bennett preferred at right back in the only change made to the side.

Mowbray had been keen to have Bennett in the starting line-up for the trip to the New Den, but felt Joe Rankin-Costello, filling in at left back, deserved his spot hence Nyambe being the man left out.

“Ryan has played a lot of football for us, I’m not sure he’s up to speed, from after lockdown he’s found it difficult, he’s a lad who needs to practice every day on his technique and his ability with the ball,” the manager told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“I thought Joe Rankin-Costello warranted his place in the team and thought Elliott Bennett brings some character and personality to our team and takes the game-plan on to the pitch.  

“It was a balance of a few things, confidence levels, and the fact he’s played a lot of football, we decided to go with Elliott and Joe.”

Rovers had almost two thirds of the ball at the New Den, but managed just two shots on target across the 90 minutes, both from Adam Armstrong.

Mowbray was pleased with the control his side had in the second half, after a below-par first period which saw him make two changes at the break, but an inability to test Millwall ‘keeper Bartosz Bialkowski was a particular disappointment.

“You watch the top teams and they have individuals who can create something for themselves and we lacked a bit of that. We lacked the final pass, the final run, individuality around the box,” Mowbray added.

“Possession, you’ll hear me say that possession is nothing without end product and cutting edge, and I think the top teams that have all the ball but win 3-0 and 4-0 is because they have great individuals at the top end of the pitch who can make a difference.

“We fell a bit short.”

The result leaves Rovers  in 12th position, and now mathematically out of the play-off race, having taken seven points from the 21 available since the re-start.

This was their fourth defeat, and they have now failed to score in four of their last five away fixtures.

Bennett was just the one change to the side, with Mowbray resisting the temptation to make more despite the impact of the substitutes in the second half of the draw with promotion-chasing West Brom at the weekend.

And he admits the visitors’ approach had something to do with that.

“We lacked the quality to break down an organised, hardworking team, and ultimately if you’re to be at the top end of this table, right at the top, then you have to be able to beat teams who are big and strong and aggressive,” he added.

“You have to have the quality and class to play through them and around them, individuality, all of that, and we lacked a little bit of that.

“Yet if you’d have played a tippy-tappy team from the start, you might have got bullied out of the game and that was the balance we had to think about.

“You can’t come to Millwall and be out of the game before it even starts. We had to get that balance right between one that was physical enough to deal with their directness and then as the second half opened up we put some more technical players on.

“Theories are alright, but you have to do it on the grass and we didn’t manage that.”