Harry Pickering says he is being asked more questioned defensively in the Championship that has seen him curb his more natural attacking instincts.

The left back is set to return to the side at Bristol City after a month-long absence due to a calf problem and will aim to continue what has been a bright start to life at Ewood Park.

Tony Mowbray backed Pickering as his No.1 left back, despite summer signing Tayo Edun impressing when filling in, and the former Crewe Alexandra man has proven to be a dependable figure in the Rovers defence.

The 22-year-old built a reputation as one of the EFL’s most creative full backs during his time with the Alex, but it is defensively where he has caught the eye for Rovers, though he has still clocked up a goal and two assists in his 13 appearances.

Pickering explained that it isn’t by design that he’s looked to take on a more defensive outlook, believing the step up in level has been key to that.

“I think I’ve just been asked more questions defensively than I did last year, no disrespect to League One, there are some good players,” he said.

“But this level is a higher one, the wingers I’m playing against ask you more questions and you have to have it in the back of your mind that if you do run forward then you have to make sure you’re in a position to get back.

“The wingers are fast and cheat a little bit sometimes and can get you on the break so you have to judge it game by game.

“Defensively you have to be switched on.”

Pickering became something of a set-piece specialist having been developed through the ranks at Crewe, and spells in midfield have also helped with his creativity on the ball.

“I think that’s natural, I’m more of an attacker than defender, but I’ve had to do more defending this season than last,” he continued.

“I enjoy both sides of the game but I’ll be looking to add more goals and assists to my game and try and better my stats from last season.”

Pickering’s return could free up Edun to move into a midfield role at Ashton Gate as Rovers get back to action after the two-week international break.

That came at the perfect time for Pickering, allowing him to get back to full fitness having been out of action since the 1-0 defeat to QPR last month with a calf problem.

Rovers headed into the break with three wins in four matches to climb to seventh in the table after 17 games.

And Pickering says the aim has to be to find a level of consistency that can take Rovers into the New Year in a strong position.

He added: “We have had a good start but if we can be consistent over this next period then that can be crucial.

“If we can get points home and away, with so many games coming up, it can keep us in the top half of the table and I think that’s crucial heading into the New Year.”

Illness ruled Pickering out of the Coventry City draw before a calf injury saw him replaced at half time of the QPR defeat.

He’s since missed the last four matches, but is eager to get back into the fold after a disappointing time out of the side.

He said: “I’m back training now, back fit. It’s been a frustrating few weeks but I’m back now.

“I’ve been more nervous watching than playing, it’s not been nice but you have to support the lads as best you can.”