Derrick Williams admits he wasn’t sure he’d still be at Rovers a month ago – but hopes to have shown his worth with his performances in the early season.

Interest from the MLS and Swansea City looked likely to end Williams’ four-year association with the club having endured a difficult time with injuries in 2020.

However, with no club meeting Rovers’ valuation for the 27-year-old, and a vacancy in central defence, the Republic of Ireland international has taken it with both hands, impressing alongside Darragh Lenihan in chalking up clean sheets against both Wycombe and Derby.

Rovers have now brought in Daniel Ayala to add to their defensive ranks, and although Williams wouldn’t say for definite, all the signs point to him staying at Ewood Park where he will be a hard man to displace. Asked if he thought he wouldn’t still be at the club, he said: “Yeah, to be completely honest with you.

“Football changes quickly, but all I wanted to do is work hard and play football and hopefully I’ve shown the gaffer I can do that in the last couple of weeks.

“We’ll have to wait and see.”

Williams had played just once in 2020, a substitute appearance back in February, before being handed a starting shirt on the opening day.

He’s started the opening three league games, and the Carabao Cup defeat at Newcastle, having enjoyed a similar run in the side in the early parts of the last campaign.

Ayala travelled with the squad to Derby, but isn’t yet ready to feature having himself not played since New Year’s Day because of an ankle problem.

The 29-year-old has had a full week of training under his belt and the Spaniard, with seven years experience of the Championship, is a player that Williams believes is already making his mark on the squad.

“Daniel is a good player and a very good defender and he’s come in and everyone’s game was lifted, training has as well,” he added.

“Me and Darragh will have to be at our best.”

Rovers conceded 48 goals away from home in 2018/19 and conceded nine fewer last term. However, the 4-0 result at Derby was their first away clean sheet since the 2-0 victory at Charlton in February, something that was particularly pleasing for Williams.

It was the same mentality, when the game was won, that also enabled them to record a first clean sheet of the season against Wycombe, before making it back-to-back shut-outs for the first time since February.

But Williams says credit must go to the whole team for the way they have looked to keep the opposition out.

He added: “It’s a good feeling, especially the clean sheet because there’s a lot of pressure on us at the back. It was a good game between two good teams, I don’t think too many people will come here and get a clean sheet. We’re buzzing with that.

“As a team I thought we all worked really hard, defended as a team, and that showed.

“We were ruthless, and we could have had more.

“You could get complacent at 3-0 up but the main thing was that me and Darragh were saying how much we wanted the clean sheet so were constantly shouting at each other to do what we were doing.”

Another man delighted with a clean sheet was new recruit Thomas Kaminski, the Belgian goalkeeper enjoying a strong start since his switch from AA Gent.

He made important saves in either half, and Williams said: “He’s a good guy as well, he’s settled in really well. He made a great save in the first half, he’s commanding, good with the ball at his feet, it’s been good to play with him.”