For Elliott Bennett in 2021, see Stewart Downing 2020 and Craig Conway 2019.

Three players of experience, versatility and good to have around the group saw their contracts coming to an end at Ewood Park without the firm offer of another one, but a general desire of Tony Mowbray to keep them around.

Downing’s case was slightly different in that it was a one-year stay that was coming to an end, and he had been involved in every matchday squad up to the final day, making 39 Championship starts.

The 36-year-old also returned, albeit in November, on another short-term deal, but there was always a sense that as long as the finances were available after the transfer window closed, it would be a deal Rovers would do.

Conway opted to move on in 2019, having just turned 34, ending a five-and-half year association with the club (the same length of service as former team-mate Bennett).

His departure came after 200 appearances, but only nine starts in his final season, 2018/19, and he is now playing regularly for St Johnstone after opting for pastures new.

For Bennett, while the door is open for a return, he has the option of speaking with other clubs, as Downing did, but seems much more likely to pursue any suitable offer given his game-time this season, but also the fact he is only 32, and could have at least five more years in his legs.

While an injury has to be factored in, Bennett ruled out for three months with ankle ligament damage, he managed only two starts in 2020/21, among nine appearances.

He took over the captaincy in the wake of Charlie Mulgrew’s departure to Wigan in 2019, and while he didn’t take the armband for his two starts, that remaining with Darragh Lenihan throughout 2020/21, Bennett’s leadership qualities not only off the pitch, but the standards and example he sets every day in training, never waned.

Indeed, even when frozen out by Owen Coyle, his attitude remained exemplary, and never once pushed to leave, even on loan.

Mowbray is keen to keep him around not just for his service however, Rovers are a football club after all, and his versatility has been shown by appearances on both flanks, as well as the middle of the park, in the defensive and midfield areas.

Yet finances are clearly tight, and it would be money coming out of the same budget that Mowbray will need to use to strengthen other areas of the pitch.

With Ryan Nyambe and Joe Rankin-Costello having signed on for at least another season, right back, where Bennett has played much of his football under Mowbray since the League One promotion campaign, looks well covered, with youngster Dan Pike also making great strides in the Under-23s as possible cover.

There is understandably a value attached to keeping Bennett around, but by the same token, it is how much that is justified against any wage he would command.

A player with just shy of 200 appearances for Rovers, Premier League and Championship experience, an infectious energy and enthusiasm, Bennett is unlikely to be short of offers, Shrewsbury Town, a club close his Shropshire home, are understood to maintain an interest first shown in January.

And that could be something Bennett looks to pursue, should he not see a future at Ewood Park.

Mowbray’s stance is likely to come from the lack of leadership there has been at times in the Rovers squad, and losing Mulgrew and Bennett from the side, and Richie Smallwood a year earlier, there is understandably a void, not helped also by the loss of experienced figures of Corry Evans, Lewis Holtby and Downing.

Finances have clearly played a part in Rovers’ decision, and while there has been a hint at a more youthful look to the squad, it places more emphasis on the likes of Lenihan, Daniel Ayala and Bradley Johnson whose services have been retained for a further 12 months.

While age doesn’t always mean leadership, Ayala and Johnson are the only players currently under contract aged over 28, with the midfielder the only one of the out-of-contract players to be retained.

Experience usually costs money, and that remains another balance for Rovers to strike this summer, though more leaders emerging from the current crop of players would be really welcomed.

So while the door isn’t closed on captain Bennett, and no pressure placed on him one way or the other, his value to the club as a whole will be hard to plug should be opt to move on.