Gareth Ainsworth has performed a ‘minor miracle’ at Wycombe Wanderers as he prepares for his return to boyhood club Rovers.

That’s the view of Tony Mowbray as Rovers prepare to face the Chairboys for the first ever time in a competitive fixture.

Ainsworth shed tears when, aged 18, he was released by Rovers, before going on to make 600 appearances in a playing career that didn’t end until he was 40.

Now he’s guided Wycombe to the Championship for the first time and will look to upset the odds as he manages at Ewood Park for the very first time.

And Mowbray says that’s part of the storyline which makes this weekend’s fixture so intriguing.

“I think Gareth has done a minor miracle to get Wycombe Wanderers in to the Championship,” he said.

“We know how hard it is to get out of League One, and it’s an amazing job that he’s done.

“I know he’s a Blackburn lad and I’ve spoken to him a few times over the phone in recent years about potential loan players. You can feel his passion for this club.

“He will have his team wound up I’m pretty sure, he’ll be coming to put in a good performance, and from what I’ve seen of them, they’re very much on the front foot, they’re aggressive, put the ball in your box, play forward, having forward runners, they make life very difficult for a possession-based game.

“It’s going to be a tough encounter, and we’ve had a couple of them against newly-promoted sides in the last year or so and we’re expecting another difficult game.”



While Mowbray says Rovers will need to punch above their weight to challenge at the top end of the division, he admits just being there represents a ‘magnificent’ achievement for Ainsworth and his players.

Rovers will hope to put pay to a possible fairytale return for Ainsworth and chalk up a first Championship win of the season.

Despite back-to-back defeats at Bournemouth in their Championship opener, and Newcastle in the cup, Mowbray is happy with what his team are producing.

“The team are functioning well and playing how we believe we’re going to win lots of games this season,” he added.

“It’s still a team in transition from the Danny Graham and Bradley Dack era of a bit like Wycombe, getting the ball forward, pretty direct, getting it around the edge of the box and asking questions of the opposition.

“We’re trying to progress this team to become more controlled, create chances, play in the opposition half, we’re trying to make the team into one that when we get it right and we click we’ll win lots and lots of matches because of the way we pressure, and ask questions of the opposition.

“We have played two teams who were in the Premier League last year, one still is, with the power those teams have, our performance levels have been high, so let’s see what it’s like against one coming up from League One rather than out of the Premier League.

“I believe we’ll give them a few problems, hopefully score a few goals, and win the football match.

“I talk to the team about our processes, play how we play, do what we believe in, and we will win games and the performances will dictate results, and that’s how we have to move forward in my eyes.

“Brentford last season, won one of their first eight, nothing changed, they kept playing exactly the same way and because of the processes they have in place, and the talent they have, they went on that run and I’m sure there will be opportunities this season for us to win lots of games.”