Joe Rothwell has now, for the first time in his Rovers career, made more Championship starts, than substitute appearances, with Tony Mowbray still keen to convince the 25-year-old how good a player he is.

Rothwell should make his fourth successive start against Nottingham Forest this weekend, only the second time in his Rovers career he will have achieved that feat, the last time coming in November 2019.

His eight consecutive starts to end his debut season at the club remain his longest run in the side, but Rothwell feels he’s beginning to show his best form while operating in his favoured role.

He didn’t start on the opening day at Bournemouth, but has the three matches since, and has benefited from injuries to Bradley Dack and Lewis Travis in that central area, and his 73 league appearances now see more starts, than sub outings.

Rovers are carrying a smaller squad this season, the midfield options having been lessened by Stewart Downing’s departure, and that has offered the chance for Rothwell to have more of a starring role.

Mowbray has until 5pm on Friday to further add to his squad, and while a midfielder has been considered, the development of Jacob Davenport and John Buckley, and possibly blocking their pathway, will come into their thinking when it comes to a possible addition.

“I think it’s only healthy to have competition, but it helps having a smaller squad that if you’re out of the team you know you will get a chance and the gaffer will throw you in,” Rothwell said.

“I’d say having a smaller squad in that way helps, but longer-term, who knows, we’ll wait and see.”

Mowbray’s challenge has always been for Rothwell to score, and provide, more goals and bring an end product to his undoubted promise.

The midfielder is now into his third season at the club, after joining from Oxford United in 2018, and the manager says: “He’s not a kid anymore but he remains an unbelievable talent.”

But with just four league goals to his name, that’s a tally the manager wants to see improve, but he has recorded three assists already this term.

“I keep trying to tell him how special he can be and how glad I am that he plays for us and not the opposition,” the manager added.

“There are other times, when he doesn’t impact the game, and I get really frustrated with him.

“He has to grasp it and develop to have that confidence to run past people and to produce the end product like he is doing at the moment.

“There have been a couple of times recently where he’s beaten a couple of players and steamed into the box before producing a weak effort straight to the goalkeeper.”

Rothwell has got on the pitch in all six matches so far, with Rovers going into the first international break on the back of a 0-0 draw with Cardiff City.

That made it seven points from the four Championship matches, with Rothwell having seen plenty of positives in the opening matches to indicate the club can enjoy a successful season.

They have kept three clean sheets since an opening day defeat at Bournemouth, and have chalked up 11 goals so far, the most in the division.

And Rothwell believes it’s been a well-rounded start to the campaign.

“I think it’s been really good, even the game we lost narrowly to Bournemouth there were a lot of positives. After the game we spoke about it and I think we’ve implemented the stuff we talked about in the games that we’ve played (since),” he explained.

“We’ve looked to press teams and win the ball back as high as we can and the last few games it’s worked well for us and we’ve managed to score a few goals from that.

“But we’ve also shown that we can do the other side of it, catch teams on the counter and score that way as well.”