We need to talk about Bradley Dack.

His long-awaited return is getting nearer by the day, with the hope in the next month or so he’ll be in contention to feature in the first-team once again.

However, is there quite the clamour and excitement that they’re should be? Has time clouded the judgement of just how good a player Dack is?

That’s not to put pressure on him to hit the heights that we’ve come to expect from the Rovers talisman straight away after so long out, but let’s not re-write history, here is a player that would improve every team in the Championship.

That’s not to say that Rovers haven’t done okay without him. Dack has so far missed 27 Championship fixtures in which Rovers have claimed 35 points, and scored 47 goals, Adam Armstrong accounting for 16 of them.

But by the same token, every match where chances have been missed, thinking back to away defeats at Wigan and Barnsley and 0-0 home draws with Stoke City and last weekend’s against Cardiff City, there is talk of: ‘things would have been different if Dack was fit?’

Yet when things go well it turns to ‘I’m not sure where Dack would fit in’.

Throughout his time at the club Rovers have almost exclusively operated in a 4-2-3-1 system, with the team built largely around Dack's successful partnership with Danny Graham.

Since his injury heartbreak in December, particularly post lockdown, Rovers have played with a 4-3-3 formation, and indeed the recent trend in modern football has seen the No.10 position go out of fashion.

That has led some to question while role Dack takes, but for Mowbray, it’s the principles of play, not the formation, that are crucial.

While they have tinkered with the formation slightly it’s not as though they have ripped up the football rulebook and it would be a slight on the talent of Dack to suggest he can’t find a home in this system, or indeed any other.

“Dack is a flexible player. He could play centre-mid for any team if he wanted to, if we needed him,” Mowbray has already commented, though that won’t be at the forefront of his mind as he allows Dack all the necessary time to get back up to speed.

The 26-year-old has played 64 times in the Championship, just two of those as a substitute, and scored 24 goals. His eight assists sees him averages a goal involvement every other game.

Dack will understandably take time to get himself 100 per cent match fit, it’s been a long road back, but one that he’s thrown himself into and will likely reap the rewards of a break from match action and time spent working on all aspects of his fitness.

Rovers have enjoyed a strong start to the season, their frontline has shown a good understanding, but with Armstrong the nearest competition, Dack is the most natural goalscorer at the club.

He is not a luxury talent who has to have the team fit around him or someone you have to make allowances for defensively, Dack is as hard-working as any player in the squad, often to his own detriment, not afraid to put his body on the line for the sake of the team.

He was pressing from the front long before Rovers made the efforts to do it as a team, and having the pace ahead of him could well play into his hands. Dack has previously found himself as the only, but always the main, creative threat in the Rovers side.

Thinking back to the end of the 2018/19 season when he had Joe Rothwell for company, and the few glimmers we saw of a developing understanding with Lewis Holtby last season, the better players around him the better Dack becomes.

Having those extra attacking options around Dack could well take some of the opposition’s focus away from him. His quality on the ball could also help unlock the pace Rovers will have ahead of him.

The average position of Rothwell in his three starts has seen him in areas not that dissimilar to what we’ve seen of Dack previously, already registering eight shots in his three shots. 

Rovers have had 79 shots in their opening four Championship fixtures, 20 more than their nearest rivals, 47 per cent of those inside the 18-yard box where we’ve seen Dack thrive.

His return should be something to get excited about, he certainly is.