Tony Mowbray doesn’t feel Bournemouth’s January bid for Joe Rothwell was done to unsettle their promotion bid – with the Cherries still retaining an interest in the Rovers midfielder whose contract expires this summer.

The two clubs were looking like automatic promotion rivals when Bournemouth offered £3m for Rothwell in the January window, but Rovers owners Venky’s insisted on keeping the squad together and turned down their advances, as well as those of MLS side Chicago Fire.

Rothwell missed the draw at Luton Town in January as speculation began to intensify, but held clear the air talks with Mowbray after the club made their decision and has continued to be a regular in the team.

The 27-year-old looks set to leave the club this summer, with Bournemouth still interested in signing him, but that would now be on a free transfer.

Mowbray shrugged off the suggestion of the bid being made to unsettle Rovers, insisting: “I don’t think that was the case.

“I think Bournemouth made a very good financial offer to another football club and our club had to make a decision as to whether we accepted that offer.

“The boy has been very professional and worked really hard on the back of the decision the club made. He might not have done that, but he has and contributed with his performance level.

“I’ve enjoyed watching him this year, I think he’s really grown from a young kid who came from Oxford and took a while to get settled and to find a position that has allowed him to grow.

“He still has a bit to go in his development but I’m sure he can play in the Premier League.”

Rothwell chalked up his 10th assist in the win at Preston North End, and featured in 40 of the 44 matches this season.

Yet with his contract expiring this summer, Mowbray indicated he would have chosen to accept the offer made for Rothwell and use the money to strengthen the squad.

The club now face the prospect of losing him on a free transfer a matter of months after rejecting the offer made, yet wanting to keep the squad together and not strengthening a promotion rivals were the reasons for that decision.

Rovers have only won three of their 16 games since the January transfer window closed, seeing them first drop out of automatic promotion contention and then the play-off spots.

They face Bournemouth today needing a win to keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top six, and take the chase down to the final day.

Reflecting on the Rothwell transfer saga, the manager said: “I had strong opinions on what we should have done with that situation, but the club made the decision of what was happening and I have to abide by that and get on with it.

“Joe is a really talented boy who can play in the Premier League, I wish him well. I’ve had him in my office this week having a good chat with him.

“Joe’s talent deserves to play in the Premier League, we’ll wait and see if he gets to do that pretty soon.”

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