Tony Mowbray feels Rovers' season will be judged against the expectations of the club's owners in the summer.

Mowbray didn’t want to get drawn into talk of a points target for Rovers in their remaining five games, despite their gap to the bottom three being cut to eight points after Rotherham United’s win over QPR on Tuesday night, and could be down to just five should the Millers beat Coventry City tonight.

A run of just eight points from the last 45 available has seen Rovers slide down the table, but they host the Derby County tomorrow knowing a second home win of 2021 would see them climb to 14th, and probable safety with 50 points.

And despite having five of the sides below them to play in their remaining games, Mowbray is keen to avoid creating any anxiety within his squad with talk of how many points could be required, having themselves been relegated with 51 in 2016/17.

He said: “I don’t know, I think we just have just try and win every game if we can.

“As was the case against Bournemouth on the opening day, we went into that trying to do that, I say to the team every game to go and be competitive and make sure the opposition know they’re in a game and that we’re fighting to get the points.

“That’s the mentality that we’ll have, I think if I create over-anxiety that can inhibit performances. The best thing to do is to go and compete, play our game, go and impose ourselves on the opposition and let them deal with their own anxieties around their position.

“That’s how we’ll approach the game, be positive, aggressive, win the 50-50s, ask questions of them, get into their final third and try and create chances and score goals.”

Rovers can’t now top the 63 points they managed last season, while the 11th placed finish also looks out of reach.

In their first season back in the Championship after promotion from League One in 2018/19 they ended 15th with 60 points, with Rovers having to win each of their remaining games to top that.

But having fallen short of their expectations of finishing in the top six, so long as they stay clear of trouble in the remaining five matches, Mowbray says his view of the season won’t be decided by the finishing position.

“If we were sitting with six more points then I wouldn’t be interested in the league table because I know we wouldn’t be going down or getting in the play-offs,” he explained.

“I’m not interested whether we finish 17th or ninth, personally. I’m only interested in the development of the individuals, the development of the team, are they taking on the messages and are we improving and getting better?

“It’s a results business, I know that, and it’s easy for people to say ‘oh you finished 16th’, well if we did, that’s okay to the point that we were never going up, and never going down, that’s where we finished.

“Everyone will have their own independent expectation of where their club should be, how much did they spend, how much is their budget, how good are their youth players, what’s the ambition of the club? Whatever you want to throw in.

“You have to try and get to the expectation and then decisions get made at the end of every year, or before then, for a lot of managers, if they don’t match the expectation, decisions get made.”

Norwich City and Watford occupy the top two spots in the division, while fifth-placed Bournemouth complete the trio of sides relegated from the Premier League last season, and look well set to win immediate promotion back.

West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, promoted from the Championship last year, look set for an early return, with Sheffield United, second in 2019/20, just a matter of weeks away from returning to the second tier.

“Are the three teams that are going to get promoted this year the three that came down? Maybe. And are the three coming down pretty close to the three that went up other than Leeds? Two of them look like they could be,” Mowbray added.

“How difficult is it to get out of this division if you haven’t got £100m to spend? Yet if you don’t believe you’re going to do it then you might as well give in.

“Barnsley are having a right good go and they don’t have one of the biggest budgets but what they have is an identity, a very direct identity.

“Cardiff had a go when Mick (McCarthy) went in, and some clubs in the past have got promotion going very direct, it’s not necessarily the quality you’ve got, it can be a few big lads, get the ball in the box, take long throws, lots of corners, score from free kicks, you can do it, it can be done if that’s the way you want to do it.

“Otherwise it’s the teams with the quality and the money that generally finish in the top end of the league, with the best players.”