Tony Mowbray could welcome two key players back for Rovers’ trip to Bristol City – with Daniel Ayala and Harry Pickering both having returned to training.

Left back Pickering has missed the last four matches since limping out of the QPR defeat with a calf problem while the same fate befall Ayala in the following match against Reading.

However, both have taken part in training during the international break to push their claims for a recall.

Sam Gallagher is understood to still be a doubt in his recovery from a similar injury after coming off late on in the win over Derby County and missing the final two matches before the international break.

The injury list is starting to look more promising though with Scott Wharton and Joe Rankin-Costello back in contention, with Bradley Dack now the only long-term concern for Rovers, with the attacker due back from his second ACL lay-off by the New Year.


Harry Pickering is in contention to make his first appearance in a month when Rovers return to action at Bristol City.

Tony Mowbray made clear that the 22-year-old is his first choice in that position, despite the arrival of Tayo Edun whose versatility could see him move further forward should Pickering be fit enough to return.

Edun has filled in for Pickering in recent weeks, with the January signing from Crewe Alexandra having only played 45 minutes of Rovers’ six games since the October international because of illness and then injury.

However, he has proven to be a very useful addition to what previously been a problem position for Rovers and will take his place back on the left side of the defence once fully fit, which it is hoped will be this weekend.

Edun could then be freed up to play in midfield, though Rovers have plenty of competition there following Jacob Davenport’s impressive display in the win against Sheffield United where Joe Rothwell had to settle for a place on the bench.

Rovers’ injury issues have switched in recent matches from the front of the pitch to the back, but things in defence are starting to look a little brighter with Ryan Nyambe back from the hamstring injury that saw him miss the Derby County win.

The Namibia international played twice during the break for the Brave Warriors, their most recent fixture coming on Monday before flying back from Johannesburg to meet up with the squad today.

Scott Wharton made his first appearance in 11 months, after overcoming a ruptured Achilles, to impress in the Sheffield United win.

The 24-year-old came into the side in place of the suspended Brighton loanee Jan Paul van Hecke who will also be absent for the Bristol City game as he serves the second of his three-game ban.

Wharton’s return eases the pressure on 31-year-old Daniel Ayala being rushed back into the fold after his recent injury absence.

The Spaniard managed only 10 appearances during an injury-hit debut season at Ewood Park, but put together a run of 13 consecutive starts before limping out of the Reading win.

He had been an influential figure in the side up to that point, with van Hecke then coming into deputise before his red card against Fulham, offering Wharton a chance to come back into the reckoning, but he could now be set to compete with Ayala for a spot alongside captain Darragh Lenihan.

With Joe Rankin-Costello back from a broken foot, as well as Hayden Carter waiting in the wings as cover, Rovers’ defensive options are looking stronger than at any point this season.

Meanwhile, Dan Pike played an hour when captaining Rovers Under-23s in their Premier League Cup defeat to QPR on Tuesday afternoon.

The 19-year-old is back at Rovers after a loan spell with National League North side AFC Fylde was cut short by injury.

Pike is likely to continue featuring for the Under-23s for the remainder of the calendar year before being considered for a  loan move again in January when the transfer window re-opens.