Tony Mowbray believes Rovers are only 28 games into their journey of building an identity that can see them challenge for promotion.

Mowbray, who will next week mark four years in the job, says the bid to create a style of play that can see Rovers challenge at the top end of the table stems from the start of this season.

He feels that is what sets apart the sides at the top of the Championship, as well as something that can help cure their inconsistency issues.

Back-to-back defeats has seen them slip seven points off the top six, Mowbray’s aim at the start of the season, ahead of tonight’s trip to Barnsley.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “All I’m trying to do is give Blackburn Rovers a style of play, a way that people identify, that we’re possession-based, we can score goals, lots of players who can keep the ball and move it around and of course we have to keep clean sheets and you build teams who can do that over a period of time.

“I think we’re really only 28 games into this journey, not four years, because all the three previous years of being built around (Danny) Graham and (Bradley) Dack, trying to get out of League One, consolidate in this division and it’s only really when some pretty key footballers left this club that we have changed course and give it a different identity because we had the chance to do that.

“Being 28 games in there’s an inconsistency, but for a lot of that time I think we’ve shown we can be a pretty potent team.”

Rovers have regularly found themselves on the cusp of the play-offs under Mowbray, but it's nine years since they were last in the top six at this stage of a season.

Since the opening month of this season they have climbed as high as eighth, as they were on their last visit to Barnsley in July, but now sit 10th after back-to-back defeats.

Mowbray has said inconsistency is the one thing holding Rovers back from making that final step, with 11 wins and the same number of defeats to their name this season.

Asked if that repeating cycle can be broken, Mowbray said: “I know my team, I know where we are, I’ve seen the progression, I know where we have to continue to work and strengthen and get better.

“I think we’re a match for any team in this league on our day and yet and we’re finding that the consistency of this team isn’t one that can go like Brentford and go 21 games unbeaten.

“Maybe that’s because of the youthfulness of some of the players in some of the positions, at the top end of the pitch is generally a young strikeforce or at the back we have some very young players.

“There’s an inconsistency about our team. Do I get frustrated? Yes. Do the players get frustrated? Yes. But it’s natural because I see it in most teams in this league.”

Cardiff City have taken advantage of those above them finding wins hard to come by, with Mowbray pointing out that Rovers aren’t alone in struggling to put together a consistent run that could see them climb into the top six.

And Mowbray believes the current top three in the Championship are there because of their work over an extended period of time.

He added: “Bristol City lost 6-0 at the weekend, they have aspirations of the top six, Middlesbrough have been around us, made some signings, got a powerful team, but have lost some games, Stoke City have lost some games but have aspirations of making the play-offs, I can keep reeling them off, teams with aspirations that can’t keep doing it week after week after week.

“There’s only Brentford in my mind that have done it really consistently, Norwich have maintained it to a level, Swansea have punched above their weight. Those are the three teams with a real identity in this division and have for more than two or three years."

“Brentford have been doing it for half a dozen years, Swansea the last five or six managers going back as far as (Brendan) Rodgers and (Roberto) Martinez, a team with an identity. They recruit players to play the systems and they get consistency of performance.

“The Premier League finds those clubs at a different level, but they can bounce between the Premier League and the Championship and they keep rolling because of the style of play.”

Rovers lost for the second successive match against Preston North End last time out, with the defeat at QPR ending a four game unbeaten run. They have twice enjoyed unbeaten months this season, in November and January, but as yet, haven’t been able to extend that form into a run that would see them break into the play-off spots.

“Injuries happen, Covid happens, winter comes and the pitch deteriorates badly, lots of things have happened that I can see,” Mowbray said of how the inconsistency can appear.

“The games come every three days and certain players can’t play at the required intensity for all of those games, we’ve got a lad (Dack) who’s probably been our best player for two years coming back from a year out, and there are all the things you throw in and you get inconsistency.

“If people can’t see that then I can’t do anything about that, I’m just telling you my opinion of why the inconsistency is there.

“But that’s the same with all of the other teams that have aspirations of getting in the play-offs.

“They’re all the same, they can’t win a game for a few weeks and then they can’t stop getting a result and they’re on a run and then they collapse again.

“I don’t study them, but they probably lost their striker or their central midfielder got sent off, things we don’t see, but that’s how football teams can be what they are and what we are.

“Ideally you get to a point where you recruit players that just slot into the roles, everyone knows them, everyone does jobs and the team keeps functioning.

“But you need to recruit well and have lots of players to do that so when the injuries and suspensions comes along you replace like with like.”