John Buckley says it will be a proud moment for him and his family when he runs out this afternoon for his 100th appearance for his boyhood club.

Buckley, who has been with Rovers since the age of six, has established himself as an integral part of the team and is expected to have a big impact this season after a breakthrough 2021/22 campaign.

He ended last season on 99 appearances but will bring up his century against QPR this afternoon as Rovers start their new era under head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Of hitting 100 appearances, the 22-year-old said: “It’s what I’ve dreamed of, a big milestone and especially with most of them being in the Championship.

“It’s a big league, so it’s a proud moment for me and my family and hopefully can tick off a lot more milestones.

“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go while I’ve been here so to get 100 appearances it’s a big thing for me.”


A focus on detail and a demand for intensity are the early impressions of Jon Dahl Tomasson for John Buckley.

A summer of change at Rovers saw Tony Mowbray depart after five years in charge, with a new structure seeing Tomasson brought in as head coach alongside director of football Gregg Broughton.

With further changes in the backroom team, Buckley says Rovers are embarking on something of a new era.

Those changes came during the summer, with the players returning for pre-season training to the new set-up, though the 22-year-old said it was hard not to keep one eye on the club’s search for Mowbray’s replacement.

“I never really switch off when I’m away and not think about football,” Buckley said.

“I had a bit of time off, but I was looking at things in the background. When you’re off the best thing is to try and switch off, because it’s a long season, and when you’re back in it’s football, football, football.

“It’s a big change with the gaffer bringing in his principles and the backroom staff has changed a little bit, it’s like a new era.

“I think everyone has taken well to it, even though it’s a big change it doesn’t really feel like that.”

Intensity on and off the ball, as well as a togetherness within the squad, are two of Tomasson’s key principles.

It is those he has tried to instill into his players during his first six weeks in the job, with the pre-season friendlies giving an early insight into the new-look Rovers.

Buckley is expected to be an integral part of Rovers’ plans moving forward, and said of Tomasson said: “He’s a very good man-manager, focuses on detail quite a lot and drives the intensity.

“He’s got principles that we need to stick to and all the team has bought into.

“Obviously we can keep improving but it’s been much better since he first came in.

“A lot of it comes from intensity, on the ball, off the ball, pressing at the right times, it’s good and I’m enjoying it.

“A lot of things can get better, throughout the season we will look to get better but it’s improved massively already in pre-season with the gaffer and what he wants.”

Buckley is one of several players in the Rovers squad who hadn’t previously worked under another manager than Mowbray, who handed him his debut in March 2019.

All of his subsequent games came under Mowbray, but it will be Tomasson who hands Buckley appearance number 100 against QPR this afternoon.

That makes Buckley one of the more senior figures within a young Rovers squad, and while he has been on hand to lend advice, he knows his own development is far from over.

With his role as head coach, Tomasson is focused on player improvement at every level, with Buckley himself targeting an increase in consistency in his performances as well as more goals and assists from midfield.

It could well be a deeper role in which Buckley is deployed this season, having largely been utilised in an advanced position by Mowbray, including as a false nine.

It is alongside Lewis Travis in the role previously occupied by Joe Rothwell where Buckley has operated in throughout pre-season, looking to dictate the play with his range of passing where possible.

That is nothing new for the midfielder who played there throughout his years coming through the ranks.

He explained: “That’s where I’ve played mostly coming through the Academy.

“Because I didn’t play there last year, or the year before, it’s about getting into good habits, it’s obviously different to playing higher up so I’m looking to get my positioning right.

“I’ve been happy with how I’ve performed there in pre-season and I’m enjoying it.

“It’s about keep improving.”

With the pre-season campaign now concluded, attentions turn to the new season with three points the target against QPR. This afternoon.

“It’s been a tough pre-season, especially with the gaffer looking at the squad and intensity has been drilled into us,” Buckley added.

“We’re building towards the game now, the preparation has been good and we’ve got a good togetherness in the group, as we did last year.

“We’re looking forward to Saturday now.

“I can’t wait, it’s come around very quick.

“Pre-season is seven weeks but has gone really quick. I’m not sure whether that’s because we’ve got a new gaffer.

“I’ve enjoyed pre-season and looking forward to being back at Ewood with the fans.

“I’d like to think I have a good relationship with the fans and would like to think we can get a win for them on Saturday and start off well.”


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