Rovers search for a centre back continues – but there is some encouraging news on the injury front for Tony Mowbray.

A new signing appears unlikely before the weekend’s FA Cup tie with Doncaster, though conversations are ongoing with Premier League clubs over potential loan deals.

Their search has intensified following news that Daniel Ayala faces up to a month out injured with hamstring problem, while Derrick Williams and Scott Wharton are both set to miss the rest of the season.

While Ryan Nyambe self-isolates, two other right back options, Elliott Bennett and Joe Rankin-Costello, were back on the Brockhall training pitches today.

Captain Bennett has been out since October with an ankle ligament injury, while a hamstring strain has seen Rankin-Costello miss the last 10 weeks. Both were with the physios, rather than joining in full training, but the news would suggest the 21-year-old, who was expected to be out for another six weeks, is slightly ahead of schedule.

Bennett is further along in his rehabilitation, but the pair’s return would offer some much-needed versatility in a squad that has been stretched throughout the course of the season.

Jack Vale, who broke down on his comeback from a muscle injury sustained in pre-season for the Under-23s in November, was back in full training for the first time in six weeks in a supplement to Tony Mowbray’s attacking options.

Rovers’ numbers have dropped in recent weeks following the decision to allow Harry Chapman, Brad Lyons and Hayden Carter all to leave on loan for the remainder of the season.

Carter’s departure to Burton Albion leaves a spot in the matchday squad, with the central defender having been on the bench at Birmingham City where Rovers named a makeshift back four in the 2-0 win.

Under-23s right back Dan Pike was among the nine-man bench, and will keep his place in the squad for the FA Cup tie in which 20-man squads are permitted for the first time.

Rovers have enjoyed a full week between the Birmingham win and the FA Cup tie, and have the same build-up to the Stoke City home fixture on January 16, with the visit of Swansea City on January 19 completing a triple-header of Ewood fixtures.

By then Rovers hope to add at least one central defender to their squad after Mowbray was given the green light to strengthen by owners Venky’s this month.

That will be in the form of a Premier League youngster on loan, as things stand, with Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite among those to be considered, but no contact has been made with West Bromwich Albion over Cedric Kipre, the Baggies having beaten Rovers to his signature when leaving Wigan Athletic in the summer, but is yet to feature in the Premier League this term.

Meanwhile, Mowbray says he will balance rest and opportunities when it comes to naming his team for Rovers’ FA Cup tie with Doncaster this weekend.

Rovers have just come out of a run of 12 games in the space of six weeks, with Mowbray believing this is the right time to hand some players the weekend off, with no Championship fixture until January 16.

There are several members within the squad hoping to use the opportunity to push forward their claims for more regular involvement in the league matches, while Bradley Dack and Lewis Travis are in need of match minutes to boost their fitness.

It leads an interesting selection for Mowbray who will be eager to progress in a competition he relishes, but be wary of over-exposing his players who have come out of a busy period.

Training time has been difficult with the schedule, but also the weather, but whoever does play, Mowbray wants to see a confident display against the League One side.

He told the club website: “Some players will want more game time, some knock on my door and want an opportunity.

“It’s a balance of who we can give a break to and who we feel we can give opportunities to.

“This will be an opportunity for some players and they need to grab it, and show me that they deserve to be in the team.”