Tony Mowbray believes the bigger the challenge the better Taylor Harwood-Bellis will perform.

The Manchester City loanee is set for a fourth consecutive start alongside Darragh Lenihan despite the return from illness of Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite.

Harwood-Bellis was part of the defensive effort that helped Rovers to a clean sheet at Millwall and restricted Swansea City in midweek to just one shot on target, and Mowbray feels the teenager’s character is shining through.

That was shown by a celebration of a late block to preserve the clean sheet at Millwall, and coming up against the league’s top scorer in Ivan Toney tomorrow night, Mowbray has backed his centre half to be up to the task.

“What I see is a lad who needs some buttons pushing because when you challenge him he generally stands up to the challenge,” Mowbray said.

“You can feel the fire in his belly and the bigger the name that plays infront of him the higher he’s going to rise in his career. The big games are what are going to get his juices flowing and I like his character, he’s one I would call an old school central defender who wants to go to war, but he can play football if that’s the game infront of him.”

Branthwaite and Lenihan looked to have struck up a good understanding after the 18-year-old’s arrival from Everton coincided with an unbeaten run of form in January.

The teenage duo were paired together for defeats against Nottingham Forest and Watford as the Irishman missed out with a rib injury.

Harwood-Bellis and Lenihan have been the preferred pairing in the last three matches, though Branthwaite has missed the last two through illness.

And Mowbray said: “People will have their own assessment of how Taylor has done in the last few games, but I think he’s been pretty good, pretty aggressive, dominant aerially and assured.

“It was the other way for a couple of weeks and people have to be patient now, you have to play your way in, or play your wait out of the team.

“He always knew the situation, he wasn’t coming in at the tender age he is to be a definite starter in our team, he was coming in because there was an opportunity to be around a first-team environment in the Championship, and if he could get some game-time then he had to show himself, show his parent club and show us he is good enough."

“That’s the journey he’s on.

“I’m very aware of how we have to use the talent of these boys, and coming from Man City, he’s showed how assured he is.”

His next challenge will see him come up against 25-goal Bees striker Toney.

“The league’s top scorer is in the opposition side, and as I talked to him about Swansea and Ayew, I think he rose to that challenge,” Mowbray added.

“This is the next challenge for him and I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and will want to show people how good he is, how assured he can be.

“It’s a good challenge for the team and one we’ve managed to rise to over the last few years.

“We’ve had some decent results against Brentford at home, even though they’ve always been a good side.

“They’ve been on a journey that’s taken them just short of where they want to go but they’re having another good go at it this season.”