After hinting at the prospect of needing to change their approach based upon the Ewood Park pitch, Tony Mowbray says that isn’t the easiest thing to do mid-season.

Rovers had worked hard in 2020 on a 4-3-3 formation, with Adam Armstrong as the central striker and a new-look three man midfield. That was a move away from the 4-2-3-1 they had almost exclusively used under Mowbray, until the injury to Bradley Dack in December 2019.

His return to the side against Stoke saw a return to that system, while Mowbray sent on Sam Gallagher in a switch to 4-2-2-2 for the second half having seen his side struggle to contend with a difficult Ewood surface.

Mowbray says his players have found it tough to play their preferred style on their home surface, something tomorrow’s visitors Swansea City have had to contend with prior to their pitch being relaid, moving to a more pragmatic style.

The manager hinted at the possibility of a change of style after the weekend draw with Stoke City.

But outlining the difficulties, Mowbray said: “When you’ve spent so long trying to embed principles of how we’re trying to play and what we’re doing, dominating possession of the ball and getting it into the final third and have a lot more touches in the opposition box, lots more shots at goal, we are now seeing the confidence level of the team hit a little bit by what we’ve been asked to play on.

“I didn’t bring that matter up, it was a question I was asked, the groundstaff work extraordinarily hard to prepare the pitches and for whatever reason, the close time between the end of a season and the start of a season, the weather in the north west, it’s a difficult surface for us to do what we’d like to do on the grass.

“If we have to tinker with things we will. We all have to be flexible and find ways to win matches.”

Ben Brereton was left on the bench against Stoke but sent on as Gallagher’s replacement when he was forced off on the hour mark.

That saw him operate as part of a front two with top scorer Armstrong, having played much of his football this season wide on the left.

And the manager doesn't foresee that continuing against the Swans, suggesting he will revert to his more favoured midfield three.

He explained: “I’ve said that I don’t think the shape really matters, I think you can see what we’re doing, we’re trying to get Dack back involved and if you take Dack off you have decisions over where other players play.

“We did go to a two at the top end of the pitch, but I’m not sitting here saying that we’re going to play two all the time.

“I like to be able to be able to pin back fours, create overloads in midfield, and you do that much better with three players than you do with two.  

“I’m not foreseeing changing the formation but we can tinker with it and have tinkered with it but some fundamentals will stay in place.

“I don't think we’ve got to have two up front, I prefer three up front but sometimes two up front if the games needs or warrants it.

“But I’m not sure that will be against Swansea’s back three, it’s why a team plays a back three to stop the two strikers and gives them control of the ball.

“But they’ll have less control of the ball if we play with three strikers so let’s see how this game unfolds.

“Moving forward, it depends on the personnel and what we decide to do for each game.”