From top of the league to the bottom.

Rovers went into the international break on the back of a 1-1 draw at Norwich City. They won plaudits for their display, despite their results now reading one win in 12.

They won’t be afforded the same luxury should they not leave Adams Park with three points on their return to Championship action next Friday, facing a Wycombe side whose fate, 11 points from safety with just eight games to go, looks all but sealed.

While a winless February ended Rovers’ top six hopes, one defeat in their last five has arrested a slide down the table which threatened to leave them looking over their shoulders.

So while they are very much in mid-table, with no top six prospects or of being dragged into the relegation fight, that’s not to say there won’t be anything resting on their remaining fixtures.

They have faced three automatic promotion contenders in their previous four matches, with supporters of those clubs rooting for Rovers in one game, but against them in others. So how are the final eight games shaping up?


April 2: Wycombe Wanderers (A)

The Chairboys were thrashed 5-0 at Ewood Park in their first away game, and 7-2 by Brentford in January, but they have largely remained competitive in matches. Play-off chasing sides Reading and Cardiff City have both left Adams Park after defeats, while they beat Preston earlier this month.

An immediate return to League One looks on the cards for Gareth Ainsworth’s side, but if Rovers aren’t ready after the international break, they could well come unstuck.


April 5: Bournemouth (H)

From the bottom of the table to the play-off race, Bournemouth will be looking for a sprint finish to get their name back in the top six where they had been for much of the season.

They have won three and lost one of their last five, comfortably seeing off Swansea City in their last Championship fixture, to boost their hopes under Jonathan Woodgate. With a game against Middlesbrough before the Ewood trip, and Reading, three points ahead of them currently in sixth facing fifth-placed Barnsley, Bournemouth could sense an opportunity to be firmly back in the mix when they arrive in East Lancashire.


April 10: Cardiff City (A)

Another in the top six race, Mick McCarthy’s side will be looking to take their quest for a play-off spot to the wire. They suffered a first defeat under McCarthy against Watford earlier this month, but then roared back with an impressive win over fierce rivals Swansea City heading into the break. Prior to McCarthy’s appointment, Rovers were four points ahead of the Bluebirds, but 14 games later, they trail them by 12, and have seen their seasons head in opposite directions.


April 17: Derby County (H)

This is one fixture that could potentially have the least riding on it, but that all depends on Derby’s form in their matches leading into the Ewood trip. No win in seven means Wayne Rooney’s side are still in the relegation mix, albeit only six points behind Rovers. They have Luton, Reading and Norwich to play before facing Rovers, so could well still need points to stop themselves sliding closer to the bottom three.


And then comes the final four…


April 20: Sheffield Wednesday (A)

April 24: Huddersfield Town (H)

May 1: Rotherham United (A)

May 8: Birmingham City (H)


As things stand, Rovers finish their season with games against four of the bottom seven. That is unlikely to be the case by the time they come around, not least given the amount of games that Rotherham have to catch up on after their coronavirus outbreak, but games which will likely be of huge importance for those clubs at the bottom of the table.

For Rovers, their run in is kind, none of the current top six left to play and five of the bottom seven.

They are out of form, with six points from the last 36 available, and games against teams scrapping for their lives are never easy at this stage of the season.

Yet this was a side that should have been heading into them with at the very least an outside chance of the top six. Although that is not there, with 24 points to play for, they have to be looking to come away with a sizeable chunk to finish the season.

They are four points outside the top half, and still 17 behind the 63 they managed last term. There will be sub-plots along the way, without taking into account the opposition, not least the futures of their out of contract players and whether some of the loanees could be fazed out at times to give others under contract for next season more of a go.

But given the opposition and what could be resting on them, they might not be the dead rubbers that were feared.