Ryan Hedges was due to sign for Rovers this summer on a pre-contract agreement, only for the club to push forward their plans with a permanent switch in January.

Yet it feels like only now is Hedges starting to find his feet at Ewood Park after a frustrating first few months at the club.

His game-time was limited under Tony Mowbray, despite Rovers having tracked him for six months, though Hedges was honest to admit he hadn’t done enough with his opportunities to warrant a starting place.

While last season fizzled out, Hedges did at least take the comfort of three successive starts away into the summer.

It has proven to be a productive pre-season, and start to the new campaign, for the 27-year-old under Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Tomasson mixed things up in pre-season, splitting his squad in the friendlies, which largely saw Hedges play alongside Rovers’ younger players.

Following a chat with Tomasson, that enabled the Welshman to see that as an important role, rather than him being sidelined from the senior group.

He ended pre-season with more minutes than any player, enough to earn him a starting spot on the opening day, with Hedges rewarding Tomasson with three assists in two games in a more central role in the front four.

“Having a full pre-season here has made me feel a lot more settled,” Hedges explained.

“You settle in by playing games and I didn’t play as much as I wanted. Then the games I did play I didn’t do enough to warrant a start.

“The manager has been really good with me.

“He spoke to me individually about that and said to be with the younger group but I’d be captain and help the younger lads.

“It was a good experience for me, I enjoyed that role."

While only the first game of 46 in a gruelling season, Hedges felt he warranted his starting spot against QPR, and saw it as a reward for his performances in pre-season and a sign of trust in him from the new head coach.

“Pre-season is about minutes and getting them in but also doing the right things and he’s feeling us out and we’re feeling him out.

“Everyone came out of with good minutes and it was good to be in that team in the first game.

“Every player wants to start the first game of the season.

“It’s only one game of 46 though and now it’s up to me to make sure I’m consistently in the team and be a big player for this player and this team.”

Tomasson arrived at Rovers having watched matches from last season, but didn’t arrive with any pre-conceived ideas about the players, giving them all equal opportunities to impress.

All of the squad inherited by Tomasson had either been signed, or handed their debuts by, Tony Mowbray.

Although Hedges and Dilan Markanday were Rovers’ most recent recruits having joined in the January window, the attacker knew he would get the opportunity to impress and feels his style gels into what Tomasson is wanting.

“I was really grateful for Tony Mowbray bringing me to this great club, I can’t thank him enough,” he said.

“My opportunities were limited in those three or four months last season.

“It was tough. The season probably ended at a bad time for me, but when a new manager comes in everyone has a new slate, everyone wants to impress.

“It’s about buying into his ideas and I feel I’ve grasped that and hopefully I can keep improving.

“The principles and way he wants to play, high intensity, one-two touch, move the ball rather than players moving, I think it really suits the way I want to play.

“The more you play you get into rhythm and know more about how he wants to play.”

Rovers were riding high in automatic promotion contention when Hedges signed, but a desperately disappointing end to the campaign saw them drop out of top six contention.

There have been no bold claims made by the club, or head coach, for this season, though Hedges sees a determination within the squad to both learn from, and use, last season’s disappointment to drive them on.

They have made the perfect start, with two wins, and clean sheets, in their opening two Championship fixtures leaving them as the only side in the division with a 100 per cent record.

Outlining the impact of Tomasson, he said: “Everything he’s telling us we’ve taken on board.

“He was really impressed with us after Swansea.

“The two games so far have been different ways to win and that shows the versatility of the team.

“We’ve shown we can win ugly but keep the ball and dominate possession as well.

“From what I have seen the experience and disappointment of the back end of last season has given us something to drive us on.

“We’re a young team and I think that matured a lot of the players.”

West Bromwich Albion provide a big test of Rovers’ credentials on Sunday afternoon due to their tag as one of the favourites to be challenging for promotion.

They have strengthened in the summer with the additions of John Swift and Jed Wallace and have claimed draws in their opening Championship fixtures against two teams expected to be at the top end of the table in Middlesbrough and Watford.

“They came down the season before last and they were very good. You can tell the quality they’ve got and they’ve strengthened again with John Swift and Jed Wallace coming in,” Hedges said.

“You know they have good players. It will be a good test but we don’t fear anyone and we’ll hope to make it nine points from nine.”