As Rovers prepare for the trip to Derby County, who will get the nod in Tony Mowbray’s team line-up? Rich Sharpe assesses the manager’s options.

Six months, Rovers return to Derby County, the scene of their final match pre-lockdown. A lot has changed in that time, but still the same conundrums for Mowbray when it comes to naming his side.

Rovers were blown away back in March, beaten 3-0 by the Rams as they missed an opportunity to climb into the top six after results had gone their way 24 hours earlier.

On that occasion Mowbray named an attacking line-up, with Sam Gallagher, Ben Brereton, Adam Armstrong and Joe Rothwell playing almost as a front four, leaving Lewis Travis and Stewart Downing as the central midfield pairing.

They were over-run, Derby’s youthful energy in the middle of the park proving too much as shots flew in from distance, including a stunning opening goal from Louie Sibley, while another saw Christian Walton parry into the path of Chris Martin who couldn’t miss.

Mowbray won’t want to make that mistake again, having admitted he got the balance wrong last time, against a Derby side who will likely utilise the craft of Wayne Rooney and youthful energy of Sibley, Max Bird and Jason Knight in midfield.

The main decision for Mowbray will be the make-up of his midfield, not helped by the absence of Lewis Travis, while Corry Evans may also be forced to sit this one out.

Bradley Johnson is expected to be the man to anchor the midfield against his former side, with Lewis Holtby having started all four matches so far alongside him.

Joe Rothwell impressed again Wycombe, but didn’t have any worries about tracking back. Would Mowbray deem that too attacking a midfield three away from home, even with Derby’s indifferent start?

Ryan Nyambe should return at right back, having sat out last weekend, and could come up against a former Rovers transfer target in Kamil Jozwiak should the Polish winger shake off a knock picked up in the defeat at Luton to feature.

The main question Mowbray could then have to answer is what to do with Joe Rankin-Costello? His versatility offers his manager options, as Elliott Bennett has in the past.

Already this season the 21-year-old has started at right back, on the right wing, and in central midfield. His Rovers career has also included starts on the left wing and in the No.10 position.

Rankin-Costello is one of five ever-presents in the side so far, and has proven a hard man to displace. Assuming that Nyambe returns at right back, he could take the place of either of the wide attackers, which on the evidence so far would be Brereton, rather than Tyrhys Dolan.

Another alternative would be to come in for Rothwell in the midfield three, or if Mowbray sees the need for as little alteration as possible after a 5-0 win, then he could be the man to make way for Nyambe’s return which would seem a given.

The depth of the squad, as well as last weekend’s result, offer little chance of much rotation, though Mowbray will have assessed Daniel Ayala on the training ground to determine whether there’s a likelihood of him featuring in a matchday squad for the first time.

Rovers improved their away form last season, but saw something of a drastic drop-off after the 2-0 defeat at Charlton Athletic in February, their last victory, and clean sheet.

Of their eight away matches since, they have lost six (Derby, Wigan, Barnsley, Millwall, Luton, Bournemouth), drawn one (Brentford) and won one (Cardiff City) and conceded 18 goals in the process.

Of their last 19 Championship fixtures at Ewood they have lost just twice, to teams who went on to be promoted (Leeds, Fulham), but an away victory would be a timely boost for Mowbray's men.