Joe Rothwell hopes a more central role can help remove the one question mark next to his name.

The midfielder is set to make his third consecutive Championship start against Cardiff City this afternoon but has had his end product questioned by his manager in his three years at the club.

Rothwell has impressed with his passing range and ability to drive forward from midfield, but has found himself in and out of team, with as many starts as substitute appearances since signing from Oxford United in 2018.

However, the former Manchester United youngster believes playing in a central midfield three is his best position and the one which can help him boost his tally of goals and assists.

He has had a hand in four goals in the last two games, and hopes to have won the trust of his manager by showing his defensive capabilities as well as he eyes an extended run in the side.

“It’s been the one question mark against my name, the goals and assists, but playing in this central role does suit my game more,” he said.

“I feel that I will produce better numbers in terms of goals and assists.”

Rothwell knows he must deliver in his new central role, not least because he’s pestered Tony Mowbray so long to play there.

The majority of Rothwell’s 81 appearances have come playing from the left, but featuring so far this season in a role which he feels suits his game, he knows the pressure is on.

Throughout Rothwell’s time at Ewood Park his quality and talent has been unquestioned, however, there have been question marks over his end product, with just five goals to his name, and his ability to put the hard yards in defensively.

The signs are promising based upon the wins over Wycombe and Derby in which Rothwell has had a hand in four goals, while his closing down was a key feature in last weekend’s victory at Pride Park.

His days coming through at Manchester United saw him largely used as a central midfield, but his opportunities at Rovers have been somewhat restricted, largely owing to Mowbray’s preference of playing two-deeper lying midfielders.

However, this season, and a switch to 4-3-3 has offered Rothwell the chance to play in his favoured position, but he knows he must continue contributing to the side to keep his place, not least defensively in a bid to impress his manager.

“For me personally it’s the position I’ve grown up playing and I do think it’s my best position,” Rothwell said.

“I’ve been in the gaffer’s ear about it and I knew that he did put me in there I had to prove I could do it, not so much the attacking side, but more the defensive side, and him trusting in me that I can do that side of it and think I’ve shown that in the last couple of games.”

Rothwell had to wait until game number 43 to break his goalscoring duck last season, and 41 the year before, with most of his consecutive starts having come towards the end of each of the last two campaigns.

Into his third season at Ewood Park he’s hoping to buck that trend, and has gone close to scoring in recent weeks, not least with his two efforts at Derby.

His ability to drive forward with the ball is a key feature of his play, something he feels can help his quest for goals when playing centrally.

“I’m getting into positions where I feel I should be doing better with my shots, tame efforts in the game the other day, but it’s something I’m working on in training and hopefully I can get that first one and kick on from there,” he explained.

“As a footballer you want to be playing every game and the more games you play the more confidence you get, especially if you’re playing well, you feel that’s only going to continue.

“Let’s hope I can stay in the team and keep the performance levels high.”

Mowbray feels his squad have embraced what he’s asking of them early in the season, with Rovers rattling off 23 attempts at goal in each of their last two matches.

Smiles have been clear to see, unsurprising given the big wins back-to-back, but Rothwell feels the freedom the players are being afforded is helping them produce their best football.

And even after the defeat at Bournemouth on the opening day, Rothwell said Rovers were able to take positives from that display into their two most recent fixtures.

“It’s massive. If you don’t enjoy your football then there’s no point playing,” he added.

“The results and the way we’re playing is helping, I think you can see the whole level around the training ground, everyone is buzzing.