Tony Mowbray has always stressed naming his substitutes bench, and who misses out on the matchday squad, is often a tougher decision that who to include in the starting XI.

That task was made easier last season by the fact the matchday squad was extended to 20, and five substitutes were permitted.

This season, there have been times where it’s been more of a thought of who to include, despite the substitutes bench being back to seven, with the squad size much smaller with 13 players having departed and only five come through the door.

One of those, Jan Paul van Hecke, is yet to feature in a matchday squad, while injuries elsewhere in the squad have often seen Mowbray turn to the Under-23s to fill his bench.

However, with van Hecke and Joe Rankin-Costello close to being back in contention, Bradley Johnson returning to the squad at Blackpool, the decisions over who to leave out of the squad will soon become that bit more difficult.

Jacob Davenport has been the first real casualty of players not making the squad, the midfielder having sat out the last three matches. That is despite the 22-year-old having come off the bench in five of the opening seven matches, and Mowbray having contemplated starting him on the opening day against Swansea City, only instead opting for John Buckley.

Midfield is the one area of the pitch where options have been particularly depleted since last season, with Stewart Downing, Corry Evans and Lewis Holtby released and Tom Trybull’s loan coming to an end.

With Johnson still yet to make an appearance, opportunities looked to present themselves in the middle of the park, but it is Lewis Travis and Joe Rothwell who have cemented their spots, starting every game, while John Buckley has featured in all 11 Championship fixtures, starting 10 of them.

With Liverpool loanee Leighton Clarkson waiting in the wings, that has pushed Davenport down the pecking order, and given him a watching brief from the stands in the last three games. Tayo Edun has also been given a run-out in central midfield ahead of the former Manchester City youngster.

Davenport was given a chance to get some minutes under his belt for the Under-23s in their Premier League Cup win over Middlesbrough, but his prospects of a first-team recall appear slim, at least for now.

The year started with him making a first Championship start, two-and-a-half years after signing for the club, in the win over Birmingham City, and five of his six starts came within an eight game period at the start of 2021.

Davenport now stands on 32 appearances for Rovers, but only six as a starter, and his quest to improve on those figures will first come with trying to get back his spot in the squad.

Turning 23 in December, Davenport is into the final year of the four-year deal he signed when joining from Manchester City after promotion from League One, and things haven’t worked out as he, or the club, would have hoped.

His first 18 months were pretty much wiped out by injury, but he did get off the bench in eight of Rovers’ last nine games of the 2019/20 season when five subs were first introduced.

His range of passing was on show on Friday night, two through-balls in particularly of high quality, but he struggled to stand-out across the 90 minutes. His first task will be to force his way back into the first-team squad, and should he not by January, that could open the door for a loan move with his Rovers career at a crossroads.