Tony Mowbray is expecting a different Stoke City than the one Rovers met less than month ago.

The Rovers boss puts that down to the players Michael O’Neill has been able to recruit within the last week, adding pace on the flanks in the form of Jack Clarke and Rabi Matondo and a first-choice left back in Rhys Norrington-Davies.

Wingers Clarke and Matondo have arrived from Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke respectively on loan, while the Potters also brought in left back Norrington-Davies from Sheffield United, also on loan, when recalled from his previous spell at Luton Town.

Stoke are without a win in their five matches since beating Rovers on December 19, though they include defeats to Premier League sides Tottenham and Leicester City in the domestic cup competitions.

They remain three points above Rovers who had almost 80 per cent of the ball at the bet365 Stadium, but lost to an early Nick Powell goal, one of only two efforts Stoke had at goal.

But sensing a difference in approach following the new loan signings, Mowbray says Rovers will still need to find a way through a Potters side who have kept 12 clean sheets this season.

“I think they’re more technical than the team we played a few weeks ago, I think they’ll be better with the ball,” Mowbray said of the visitors.

“Michael’s teams are always very well structured defensively and good organisation, pragmatic, but I do think they have some very talented individuals.

“It felt as though we were trying to just break down a defensive block the longer the game that went on. We let them score an early goal and that allowed them to sit and make life difficult for us.

Rovers face a triple-header in the next week against sides sitting above them in the table, with Stoke and Swansea City due at Ewood Park before next weekend’s trip to Middlesbrough.

Ahead of the two Ewood games, Mowbray says Rovers have ground to make up on the pair who were both relegated from the Premier League in the year his side were promoted from League One.

He added: “They’re now pushing on to get back in the Premier League. I don’t want to sit here and say we’re behind that because we’re trying to grow from being in League One, yet the reality is they were in the Premier League, they have £60,000 a week footballers still on their books but we’ll try and win these next two games and see where it takes us.”

Stoke sit eighth ahead of this weekend’s games, with Swansea currently second and Boro seventh, though Mowbray isn’t attaching any significant importance to this week.

Of the 10 sides currently above them, they managed just five points from the corresponding fixtures in the first half of the season and will need an improvement on that if they’re to climb up the standings.

Indeed, they failed to score against either of their three upcoming opponents, while Doncaster became the eighth team this season to stop Rovers from scoring, despite still being the division’s top scorers at the midway point.

“We’ll look forward to the games, I look forward to every game. I don’t sit here with any pessimistic views. We’re looking forward to playing Stoke,” he added.

“We played them a month ago and lost a game we absolutely dominated, practically from start to finish and now we’re playing them at home.

“Let’s bring it on and see it how we get on.”