The permanent signings for Rovers in 2021 have both been left backs, that coming ahead of the return of one who departed in the summer in Amari’i Bell.

Bell will return to Ewood Park this weekend with new club Luton Town where he has played every minute of their opening five games, scoring the winning goal at Barnsley and clocked up the third most interceptions in the division, winning rave reviews at Kenilworth Road.

The 27-year-old was stranded on 99 games for Rovers when he did depart, a spell that spanned three-and-a-half years, but one in which he struggled to nail down the left back spot.

In the summer windows of 2019 and 2020 Rovers added left backs Greg Cunningham and Barry Douglas, both on loan, while Harry Pickering signed on deadline day in January, only to be loaned back to Crewe Alexandra.

By the time Pickering arrived full-time, Bell had seen his contract expire, Douglas returned to Leeds, leaving him as the sole senior option, the 22-year-old starting every match so far.

With the need for more competition, Mowbray moved for Tayo Edun from Lincoln City on deadline day, with Rovers hoping to have now finally addressed a problem position long-term.

Following a six-figure move from Fleetwood Town, Rovers felt they had snared the third tier’s best full back at the time as they looked to secure an immediate return to the Championship.

Promotion triggered an option within Bell’s contract that saw it run to 2021, and across the next three seasons he would be a regular in the side, without ever feeling like he was secure of his place.

That view was enhanced by the number of signings Rovers made in the position, but a combination of Cunningham’s injury, Derrick Williams’ wish to be considered as a centre half, and Douglas’ form, meant Bell was never far away from the side.

Indeed, his performances to the back end of the season gave rise to the thought of him being offered another contract to provide competition for Pickering.

That didn’t materialise, but to his credit, Bell was the only player of the six released by Rovers to secure Championship football and he has slotted seamlessly into a role on their left flank.

Nathan Jones’ preference for a back three has given Bell the ability to play as a wing-back, a role he shone in during his time at Fleetwood.

Rovers largely operated with a back four in his time at the club, but the arrival of Brighton loanee Jan Paul van Hecke as well as Edun has given rise to the prospect of a wing-back system being employed, with mid-game switches to a three-man defence at Millwall and Middlesbrough.

Ryan Nyambe is expected to return to the Rovers starting line-up after injury, and his battle with Bell down that side will be an intriguing one to watch.

Following Edun’s arrival, eyes too will be to see how Pickering responds to that challenge, or indeed if Mowbray looks to find a way of getting both into the side.

With Bell on the opposition, it offers added intrigue into this weekend’s fixture.

He featured for Jamaica during their run to the Gold Cup quarter finals in the summer, and despite that meaning for a late arrival to pre-season training at Luton, he has quickly made the wing-back spot his own.

Bell received a further Reggae Boyz call-up for this month’s matches but didn’t feature and is expected to be in the side this weekend.

It has been an impressive start to the season for Jones’ men who have made great strides since staying up on the final day of the 2019/20 season with a win over Rovers.

A top half finish last season has given rise to the hope of cementing themselves in the division, and with wins over Peterborough (3-0) and Barnsley (1-0) to their name, a point last time out against Sheffield United (0-0) and running West Brom close, it has been a promising start.

The one blip, particularly for a side with three clean sheets already, was a 5-0 home defeat to Birmingham City.