Joe Rothwell, Rovers’ first signing following promotion from League One, is set to make it a century of appearances against Luton Town today - with the club determined to tie him down to an extended deal.

The foundations for Rothwell’s move in the summer of 2018 had started in the January of that season, Oxford United resisting Rovers’ advances who instead moved for Jack Payne on loan.

However, they landed their man in the summer for an undisclosed fee as his contract ran down at the Kassam Stadium, agreeing a three-year deal which is up this year, but with a 12-month option in their favour.

In his first season at Rovers his situation was similar to that of Harry Chapman 12 months previously, confined to dazzling substitute outings, supporters calling for more starts, but Tony Mowbray resisting that temptation until the final months, looking for more productivity in the final third and workrate off the ball.

Rothwell started the final seven matches of that season, playing off the left wing, scoring his first goal for the club in a win over Derby County in April and following that up with a goal of the season winner at Nottingham Forest.

Yet that wasn’t the springboard for a run in the side the following year, starting just one of the opening 10 matches, and it wasn’t until November, when his return to the side coincided with an excellent run of form, that he managed to force his way in.

A stunning display in the win over Brentford saw Mowbray liken his talents to those of Said Benrahma, however, his role in the side continued to be one playing off the left, rather than his preferred central midfield berth he’d played when coming through at Manchester United.

Heading into his third season as a Rovers player, Rothwell’s league starts were narrowly outnumbered by substitute appearances, 34 to 35, but since the move to 4-3-3, his role has changed, and so to his importance.

The interesting conundrum will be following the return of Bradley Dack, whether Mowbray can fit the pair into the same side as Harvey Elliott, without Rothwell the man having to be sacrificed with either a role on the bench or back out wide where he has looked less effective.

Yet Mowbray feels Rothwell is blossoming into a player capable of playing in the Premier League and is desperate for his development to continue at Ewood Park.

“I think he’s growing as a player. He’s someone with huge growth potential,” Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“Joe Rothwell can be a really talented Premier League footballer I’m pretty sure, but it’s a journey he’s on, the discipline out of possession, when to play in his position, the confidence to know when to travel with the ball and when to pass it.

“He’s doing pretty well, the attributes he has are definitely Premier League quality, he just has to bring it all together, the work ethic, the concentration, the knowledge of when to pass and when to run, the competitive edge around his game, all of that.

“When that falls into place, he’s getting there, this club has to be really threatening the Premier League or he will be going there on his own with his talent and all the attributes he brings.”

Rothwell’s goal last time out against Middlesbrough was his third of the season, matching his tally from the whole of last season, while he has the same number of assists.

It is that productivity that Mowbray has long called for, with the 26-year-old starting to deliver on those fronts, with admiring glances from the Premier League as his unique ability to carry the ball, demonstrated by goals against Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday, a clear indicator of his quality.

Rothwell is one of a host of players out of contract in the summer, but one of the most pressing for Rovers, who are looking to reward his progress with a new contract.

However, Mowbray says the situation is never as straightforward as it would seem as talks continue.

“They’re ongoing, as they constantly are with lots of players at our football club,” he added.

“I’m very conscious of trying to build a team, build a club, and have done since we got out of League One.

“Ultimately, you build the team and you build the club and you have cornerstones of that, players you need to cement as part of your building blocks and it’s very difficult, particularly players who do well.

“It becomes difficult to align your ambition up with theirs.

“Joe Rothwell is a player we’d like to secure to a very, very long contract, but when you talk like that his agent thinks we’ve got Neymar on our hands and he’s on £350,000 a week.

“There’s a balance, it’s not easy. We’d want to sign up all of our players who we feel can help take us to where we want to go but it’s not always as easy as saying ‘here you are, sign that’.”