Tony Mowbray said he ‘unfortunately’ had to turn to his star names off the bench in the FA Cup defeat to Doncaster having hoped to give them the afternoon off.

Top scorer Adam Armstrong and chief creators Harvey Elliott and Joe Rothwell were among those who Mowbray had hoped to rest for the 90 minutes after a run of 12 games in 42 days. It was just the second time this season that Armstrong hadn’t started for Rovers, while Elliott has been a virtual ever present since arriving on loan from Liverpool.

However, the pair, along with Rothwell, were all sent on by the midway point of the second half as Rovers looked for a way back into the game against the League One side having trailed to a Taylor Richards strike.

Victory over Birmingham City to start 2021 was just a second league victory in eight matches, and while Mowbray doesn’t feel the momentum has been lost from that, he was disappointed that the starting line-up against Doncaster weren’t able to get the job done.

He said: “I wouldn’t say any momentum has been lost after last week’s win at Birmingham City. We made enough changes in order for a different group to be out there.

“I think it’s important that we refreshed and gave breaks to the likes of Adam, Harvey and Joe, because they’ve played a lot of football in a short space of time and if we expect them to play a lot of games throughout the second-half of the season, they needed to mentally switch off from football for a bit, but unfortunately we had to utilise them, because we fell behind.

“It seems like a pretty common theme, particularly at home where we go behind in games and we didn’t manage to recover, unlike times where we have done in the past.”

As well as handing rests to Armstrong, Elliott and Rothwell, Thomas Kaminski, Barry Douglas and Jacob Davenport and Sam Gallagher all dropped to the bench from the team that started at Birmingham as Mowbray made six alterations.

That presented a first start of the season for Stewart Downing and Bradley Dack, a second for John Buckley and Lewis Travis a first time in the starting XI since November for Aynsley Pears and Tyrhys Dolan.

Dack and Travis are continuing their comebacks from long-term injury so were always down to start, and Mowbray says he didn’t feel like he was handed opportunities to players, simply rotating his squad.

“I don’t think I’ve given anyone real chances because everyone who was in the squad has been part of our matchday squads all season. It wasn’t really a case of giving a load of debuts, it was just moving players around and freshening the team up with players in order to give others a rest,” he told the club website.

“I’m not going to stand here and say ‘I gave you a chance and you didn’t take it’, I just rotating the squad around and gave those who desperately needed a break some time off, but sadly we couldn’t give them 90 minutes (off).”

Rovers reached the halfway stage of the season in 11th place, on 32 points, and leaving the manager eyeing an improvement on that in the remaining 23 games.

They failed to score for the eighth time this season, and despite being the Championship’s top scorers, Mowbray says there’s work to be done at the top end of the pitch.

He added: “At the end of the day, you get judged on results as a team, so despite all our good play, we have to put the ball in the back of the net and win games, that’s what football is about and we didn’t manage to do that and paid the price.”