Rovers return to action this weekend and will be looking to continue a positive run of results in November of yesteryears, but will Tony Mowbray return to his tried and trusted after switching things up against Sheffield United?


November was Rovers’ most profitable month of last season with 11 points out of a possible 15, remaining unbeaten with wins over QPR, Preston and Barnsley, with draws against Middlesbrough and Luton Town.

And so it was in 2019/20 when they collected 12 points from a possible 15. A 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Leeds United, but Rovers returned from that international break to put together a hat-trick of wins against Barnsley, Brentford and Stoke City.

Things weren’t so good in 2018/19, with a solitary wins and two poor showings in defeats at Preston North End and Wigan Athletic, but they will be eyeing a hat-trick of excellent Novembers this time around, having already clocked up one win over Sheffield United.

Their aim will be to match the four consecutive wins during the League One promotion season of 2017/18, with 13 goals scored in victories of Bury, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers and Blackpool, with an FA Cup success over Barnet for good measure.

As for Rovers’ two results after the September and October international breaks, they were the 2-2 draws against Luton Town and Coventry City when two-goal leads were let slip.



Rovers head into the weekend fresh from a two-week break and in good form, with three wins from their last four matches. That did include the 7-0 hammering at the hands of Fulham that can’t be overlooked, not least in the fact that were it not for the impact that had on their goal difference, they would have gone into the break in the top six.

They are a point, and three places, better off than at the 17-game stage last season, and level with the 2018/19 season, while five ahead of 2019/20. It’s been a more positive start than most expected, but Rovers need to now ensure it doesn’t go to waste as they head into their winter fixtures.

A trip to Bristol City is the start of a three game week which also includes a home visit of Peterborough United and trip to Stoke City.

The Robins finally ended their 10-month long wait for a home win over Barnsley last time out and their record at Ashton Gate is poor, with only seven points, and goals, from eight home matches.

They have lost four of their five matches heading into the break, sitting 19th, though Rovers have lost four of their last five at Ashton Gate, including a 1-0 reverse in December last year in what was game number 17 of the campaign.



Tony Mowbray tends to rotate his players for one game when Rovers have three in a week. He did so at QPR in the middle game, but left it to the third game of the three against Sheffield United to do so last time out.

That included four changes, only one of which was enforced, as Scott Wharton made his first start in 11 months to replace the suspended Jan Paul van Hecke.

Wing duo Reda Khadra and Ian Poveda were handed opportunities after being short of opportunities of late, while Jacob Davenport came in from the cold to make his first start of the campaign.

All four were part of an excellent team showing, Poveda and Khadra both on target, while the former also added an assist.

Van Hecke remains suspended, and won’t be back until the trip to Stoke City, while Daniel Ayala, Harry Pickering and Sam Gallagher are all set to remain sidelined by calf injuries.

That means Rovers are unlikely to have any players back available for this weekend, but Joe Rankin-Costello will be in contention to at least make the squad after not being involved against Sheffield United.



With Ayala and Pickering set to be out, and van Hecke suspended, the only possible call in the backline will be whether Rankin-Costello can displace Nyambe at right back.

The Namibia international played twice for his country over the break, and is due back in training at Rovers on Thursday.

Mowbray will be aware of the 23-year-old’s travel time back from Africa, and also his recent hamstring injuries, but Rankin-Costello too has been short of games which may detract from any thoughts of a change.

In midfield, Joe Rothwell will be eager to earn a recall after his rest against the Blades, and while displacing Davenport will be harsh based on his display last time out, it would be understandable.

Ben Brereton being back at Rovers earlier than expected because of his international commitments being cut short by suspension will at least be a plus for Mowbray who then will have to weigh up his final two spots.

Away from home Tyrhys Dolan seems a safe bet, and like Davenport, leaving out either of Khadra or Poveda would be tough, but the teenager has proven himself a dependable option over a greater period of time.

Should Gallagher not make it, then it will likely be a toss up between the loanees as to who makes up the front three, unles the manager reverts to a false nine as he did most recently against Fulham.