Rovers boss Tony Mowbray says Joe Rothwell is ready to shoulder more responsibility next season.

Mowbray is making plans for the 2021/22 campaign already which include the 26-year-old being a key part of that. Rovers are yet to agree a new contract with Rothwell, and should no positive conclusion be reached, the 12 month option in the deal that brought him to Ewood Park in 2018 will be triggered.

His start in the win over Huddersfield, in a new-look No.10 position, was his 28th of the season, and Mowbray feels he’s matured into a player capable of delivering in the big moments.

He said: “Now is a time where real responsibility will fall on his shoulders to become a big footballer for this team and he has to carry the burden of that and help this team win games bring his talent and creativity every week, not just the flashes that we’ve seen.

“He has to do that more and that burden I place on him he’s ready and willing to accept that.”

Rovers’ front three all scored, and claimed assists, in the comprehensive win over Huddersfield Town but the contribution of Joe Rothwell will have been just as pleasing to Tony Mowbray.

Rothwell won eight tackles, his pressing from a new-look No.10 role behind the front three a key facet of the win, twice winning the ball off Huddersfield defenders inside the penalty area.

His two goal involvements saw his eighth minute corner land kindly for Adam Armstrong to turn home, while it was his willingness to break forward, and then awareness, to square for the striker to score his hat-trick goal.

Rothwell’s talent has never been in question since his move from Oxford United, but finding him a role in the team, and him delivering in terms of goals and assists were the question marks next to his name.

However, Mowbray feels a greater maturity to his play, and finding a regular spot in his favoured central area this season have brought the best out of him. And with Bradley Dack again sidelined for an extended period of time, he is one of the players Mowbray is looking to step forward.

“There’s only a few players in the league that can do what he does and they’re generally the top players at the top teams,” Mowbray explained. “Joe knows his talent can see him play for those teams, his talent can see him play in the Premier League, but football isn’t about flashes in a match, football is discipline, hard work, you have to do your job.

“You have to influence matches for longer than he’s shown but as I’ve said, the expectation as he matures into this role, more as a midfield player than a left winger, he’s understanding and accepting of what we’ve talked about.

“I believe that he has a big future but he has to grasp that because if Premier League managers are looking at Joe Rothwell then they want more than someone who two or three times in 90 minutes goes on a nice dribble, beats a few men, they want someone who can influence games more than he does at the moment.

“But the maturity is coming and I think we’ll see a really positive Joe Rothwell moving forward.”

Rothwell was Rovers’ first signing after promotion from League One, closely followed by Jacob Davenport.

Both joined for small undisclosed fees after leaving Oxford United and Manchester City respectively, and while their development has been very different, Mowbray sees similarities between the two.

“Players like Davenport, Rothwell, players we bought for not a lot of money, Joe has to become a really big player for this club, Jacob has to stay fit of course, but can force his way into this set-up, and has shown in spells that he’s a good footballer,” the manager added.

“Then let’s see what the summer brings. I’d like to recruit a few players, whether they’re free transfers or we can buy some players for small fees, we have to look at all those equations.”

Mowbray says he has discussed Rothwell’s current standing, and future pathway, with the former Manchester United youngster, and says a performance without the ball, as he showed against Huddersfield, was particularly pleasing.

He said: “He’s becoming a more important player for the club, he’s always been talented, he’s had to understand the team ethos.

“If he can focus on the out of possession stuff as well, and want to do it and be part of a team with a desire to win the ball back, he’s a real asset.”