Tony Mowbray met with the press to preview Rovers’ visit to Nottingham Forest this weekend.

The game comes on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Barnsley on Wednesday night, Rovers’ third successive defeat in the Championship, which leaves them 12th in the table.

The manager revealed four or five players hadn’t trained on Thursday and would be assessed ahead of the trip to the City Ground, but that Bradley Johnson wouldn’t be ready to return after his hamstring injury.

Joe Rankin-Costello is set to play for the Under-23s against West Ham United this afternoon as part of his comeback from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since November.

Monday will mark four years in the job for Mowbray who earlier this month reached 200 games in charge, and was asked about that by the Lancashire Telegraph.

Q: You touched the other day on the journey of this team being a 29-game one, you’re approaching four years in the job on Monday, how many different cycles do you feel the team have been through under your management?

TM: “Probably two, this is the second one, Danny Graham, Bradley Dack, direct football, playing diagonals into the opposition box, keeping the ball in and around it, it’s no secret, you’ve watched every game, you’ve seen it.

“This season, we’ve got the second best possession stats in the league, we’re trying to be a possession-based team, because in my belief, it’s wrong to say it’s the only way to get out of this league because Mick (McCarthy) could do it at Cardiff for instance with a lot of 6’4, 6’5 players and winning off set plays and stuff like that, you can do that of course and it’s been done in the past.

“But the vast majority of teams that go up they dominate possession, they dominate the ball, they have the most passes, you are giving yourself a better chance of creating more shots giving yourself more opportunities to score.

“I think that’s the team we are, or are trying to be. I think that’s been hindered during this winter period but for long spells, all of the statistics, only last night I got a data analysis from Wyscout, company who suggest that we’re top of this league, second best in the league in possession, third best in the league at this, most touches in the opposition box, all the statistics, and I know the only statistic that matters is the result at the end of the day.

“All the statistics of this team are, I think we’re the second best possession-based team with the most passes in this league, definitely the most touches in the opposition box, definitely the most shots on target of any team in this division.

“I’m trying to make this team into a possession-based, dominant, football team, and we’re 29 games into that now.

“We’ve been hindered by certain injuries, certain defensive stuff and when you lose a goal because you don’t defend this situation properly it always puts extra pressure on the team to try and go and recover and we’ve had to try and recover a lot recently.

“Those situations are well-documented, (Scott) Wharton, (Derrick) Williams, (Daniel) Ayala, it’s the situation we’re in and yet the positivity of third most passes in the league, most shots in the league, Adam Armstrong is the second top goalscorer, the player with the most shots on target in the league, there’s plenty of positives about this football team.

“Yet I feel the negativity, potentially from yourselves, because I understand the expectation that I brought to this football team, not to the club, because this is Blackburn Rovers and I understand Blackburn Rovers historically should be fighting in the Premier League, well, there’s a lot of teams who would say that.

“The team we play tomorrow (Nottingham Forest) have won two European cups, football is football and you are where you are, but you have to go on a journey to try and get your team back.

“I’ve started that journey by making this team a possession-based team in this league and that if we can keep the identity, you’re going to have a chance.

“As I’ve said, and I know I’m repeating, but Brentford, Norwich City, Swansea City, identity, passing, ball retention, keep the ball, shots, final third entries, you win more games than you lose.

“I think Wednesday night was a game, because of the personnel we had, because of the situation where we are at this moment, we matched up a team that are the best statistically in the league at playing the ball forward and putting it in your box and with two 18-year-old boys, we decided to put another defender in there.

“It’s not the way we play, but it was to try and get a result on the night.

“We didn’t, and it’s then easy for certain individuals to then criticise and I understand that, that’s okay. As the manager, I’ll pick the team for the next game and we’ll try and win it.

“If you lose, the criticism comes, it’s my job, I’ve done it a long time.

“I have a big steel barrier up in front and you can’t hurt me, not you personally, but that’s how football is, you have to take the good and the bad.

“And when we’re winning and scoring lots of goals, it’s great and when you lose, you have to accept it. And we keep rolling on to the next game.”

Q: I think the feeling would be that all of those positive statistics you’ve mentioned, they would suggest the team would be closer to the top six, and that is reflecting the mood of where things are?

TM: “You can see the balance of the team, you can see that as an attacking team we’re really potent.

“The guy with the most shots, the most touches in the opposition box, in the league, the guy who’s the second top scorer in the league, we’ve got the top assister (Harvey Elliott) of goals in the division in our team, we’ve got three of the top 10 passers in the league in our team.

“There’s massive potential and positives in this team and yet if we’re in a situation where our main three central defenders, who are in front of the young boys we’ve got on loan, out of the team injured, the team can get hurt, we aren’t as robust and resilient as what we should be.

“You can put extra defenders in to protect in certain games and it takes away from the goalscoring opportunities at the other end and that’s just a balance.

“My nature is that I want to go and attack and score and play on the front foot and be aggressive.

“I think that’s what this team does. If that’s not good enough for some people that’s okay, let someone else have a go, I’ve said that in the past.

“I’m only trying to build a football team, build a club, with an identity, and I mentioned Brentford, I don’t know how many years they’ve been trying, they were top of the table and just lost two games, are they all moaning at Brentford? Maybe, I don’t know because I don’t see it.

“I’m just trying to give the team an identity, be a team that dominate the ball, create lots of chances, score goals, win games if we can. At the moment the balance isn’t quite right because if we had Ayala and Lenihan playing centre back in this team, we wouldn’t have conceded the goals that cost us points and we’d be winning lots of football matches.

“At this moment we haven't, we are doing with what we’ve got our very best and it feels a little bit like a lack of support from certain areas, but that’s okay, because the group are quite tight and we’ll get on with it together.”