Rovers’ failure, but also inability, to name a settled side has been well documented.

There was a 32-game wait to name an unchanged team, and there have been only three across the course of the season. Injuries have of course played their part.

Across the 38 team selections Tony Mowbray has made, there have been 99 changes. It has led to the view that ‘Mowbray doesn’t know his best team’. Yet digging a little deeper, the statistics tell a different story.

Of those 99 changes, 33 have been enforced, whether it be because of injury, Covid, concussion protocol or family reasons. In 24 of the 38 matches this season, Mowbray has had to make at least one alteration that has been forced upon him.

There hasn’t been a consistency of selection, but neither has there been in the availability. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Mowbray doesn’t currently know his best team.

Nine players have started at least half of Rovers' 38 Championship fixtures.

Of course, a fully-fit Lewis Travis and Bradley Dack would likely be among that, while Scott Wharton would certainly make a good case.

Travis started the opening game at Bournemouth and wasn’t seen again until the first game of 2021, while Dack was always going to be a mid-season return, his campaign then cruelly ended by another ACL injury.

Yet going through the sides that Mowbray has selected this season, you can gauge clues of what he would want as his most favoured starting XI.

There is one undeniable fact, Thomas Kaminski is Rovers’ No.1. Not only that, he’s established himself as one of the best in the division, and has missed just three games, all owing to an injury in October in which Rovers only gained one point.

Then come partnerships that have emerged. In Rovers’ preferred 4-3-3, within the two attacking trios, there have developed relationships.

Bradley Johnson, Lewis Holtby and Joe Rothwell have started seven games together as a midfield three, and while the unavailability of Travis, Tom Trybull and Dack has likely played a part, that has been a go-to for Mowbray at times.

Holtby and Rothwell have started in central midfield on 11 occasions together, with Johnson’s involvement a little less frequent owing to spells out of the side through injury and coronavirus, as well as a stint at centre half. The only other combinations to run it close are Trybull-Rothwell-Holtby, Trybull-Buckley-Dack and Johnson-Trybull-Rothwell that have each been the selected trio on three occasions.

In attack, Harvey Elliott wasn’t in situ for the opening five matches, and Ben Brereton missed eight through injury, yet alongside top scorer Adam Armstrong, they have been the chosen front three on 11 occasions.

The only other that comes close is Elliott-Gallagher-Armstrong which has been used seven times, and largely when Brereton wasn’t available, while in the opening weeks of the season, Tyrhys Dolan was alongside Brereton and Armstrong on four occasions.

Based upon that research, you could well imagine Johnson, Holtby, Rothwell, Elliott, Brereton and Armstrong as a first-choice front six.

With Kaminski in goal, Barry Douglas would be the choice at left back, with 24 starts to his name, albeit one at right back. That is a position which is of intrigue, as despite Ryan Nyambe clocking up 27 starts, and Joe Rankin-Costello only 13, including

one in midfield and three at left back, Mowbray’s tendency to go with the latter over the more specialist option, means he could now be seen as first choice.

That leaves only the central defensive pairing. Given he was the only central defensive addition in the summer, you would imagine the plan was for Darragh Lenihan and Daniel Ayala to be the first-choice pairing.

However, Derrick Williams went from looking set to leave to Rovers’ most consistent performer, starting 10 of the opening 12 matches. He had a good understanding with Lenihan and despite not being used since November, that remains the most used of Rovers’ eight central defensive pairings to have started a game.

The Lenihan-Ayala combination has been used six times, once more than Lenihan-Wharton who won three and drew one of their four completed games together, the other being the 2-2 draw with Brentford in which the captain was sent off, and Wharton taken off on a stretcher.

The closest rival to Lenihan-Williams is Lenihan-Branthwaite, seven times used by Mowbray, though with six, Lenihan and Taylor Harwood-Bellis are striking up a good understanding of late, conceding just one goal from open play in their most recent five matches.

So with Lenihan seemingly first choice, Harwood-Bellis currently getting the nod over Branthwaite, Williams moved on, and Ayala and Wharton both injured, it would make the current partnership the first choice.

Yet had Wharton and Ayala not got injured, there wouldn’t have been the need for January reinforcements, and the likely shoot-out between the two would have been an interesting sub-plot to watch, the left footed option of Wharton possibly giving him the edge.

The stats would therefore suggest that Mowbray’s strongest team would be: Kaminski, Rankin-Costello, Lenihan, Harwood-Bellis, Douglas, Johnson, Holtby, Rothwell, Elliott, Brereton, Armstrong.

Then again, a fully-fit Travis would get in the majority of Rovers fans’ starting line-ups, so this will be a debate that will rumble on until the pubs re-open, and beyond. 

Number of changes made: 99

Number of enforced changes: 33

Average number of changes: 2.6

Reasons for absence: Injury (22), Covid (7), Suspension (2), Other (2)

Unchanged teams named: 3

The 11 most selected starters: Kaminski (35), Lenihan (34), Armstrong (33), Nyambe (27), Brereton (26), Elliott (26), Rothwell (24), Douglas (24), Johnson (21), Holtby (18), Gallagher (17)