It was at Sheffield United in December 2018 where a fledgling midfielder in Lewis Travis had his sliding doors moment from which he has never looked back.

Travis was all set to go out on loan, even speaking with Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth about the prospective move ahead of the game.

While Rovers lost 3-0, impressing on his first league start, coupled with a red card for Richie Smallwood that triggered a three-match ban, saw Travis stay at Ewood Park and go on to cement his place in the side.

On Sunday he will lead the side out in an FA Cup quarter final with the prospect of an appearance at Wembley at stake, something the 25-year-old said would be a ‘bucket list’ moment.

“I was laughing about this with my girlfriend, I was in the hotel room and on the phone to the Wycombe manager thinking I was going out on loan and ended up being thrown in,” he said of the Bramall Lane game in 2018.

“It was a great day and to now be captaining the club it will be a proud moment for me.

“It’s massive, it’s big on the bucket list getting to Wembley.

“If we’re able to do it then it’d be a proud moment for me and my family and one that would stick with me forever.”

Travis was named club captain at the start of the season but that didn’t stop him spending six weeks out of the side.

He had missed just two of Rovers’ 71 league matches leading into the trip to Norwich City in December, only to then be dropped by Jon Dahl Tomasson following a loss of form.

Yet his return to the side, and to his very best form, have coincided with Rovers putting together their most consistent run of results under Tomasson.

At 25 he is the most senior of Rovers’ midfield options, and takes on an increasingly important role with John Buckley ruled out for the rest of the season.

Travis was hurt by being left out, even appearing for Mike Sheron’s Under-21s side as well starting at right back in the Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Reflecting on that, Travis said: “The manager has shown that if you’re not performing you haven’t got a right to play, you’ll go to the Under-21s to get minutes and to play games but you know me as a lad, I hate being on the bench, hate not being involved, and I’ve worked hard and when I came back in my did my job and hopefully I will stay there.”

It will be second against fifth in the Championship when the sides square up at Bramall Lane today, guaranteeing there will be at least one EFL club in the last four of the competition.

While Rovers haven’t won on their last seven trips to Sheffield United, they do have the positivity of a win over the Blades as recently as March 6 when Harry Pickering’s goal settled the game at Ewood Park.

Rovers were excellent on the day, and Travis said: “Sheffield United will fear no-one in our league, but coming into the game on the back of that win they won’t be taking us too lightly.

“They have a good budget in our league, they have got really good players, really good players but I think we do things different.

“I think if we’re at our best, I think our intensity might take over and hopefully we can go and replicate that and go and have a good game.”

Because of that recent win, Travis says the players will take belief from that heading into to this weekend’s game.

“Massive confidence,” he explained.

“Our home fixture we were playing at our best.
“They have a lot of amazing players but when we play the way we want to play then we’re more than capable of getting the win.

“We now need to go and replicate that.”

Key to the win at Ewood was Rovers’ ability to win the midfield battle.

Rovers’ intensity proved too much for a Blades midfield that has since had a reshuffle, with the experienced pair of Oli Norwood and John Fleck left out for the midweek win at Sunderland.

Replacing them, alongside Sander Berge, were Manchester City duo Tommy Doyle and James McAtee, with Paul Heckingbottom having a wealth of resources in that area of the pitch.

And Travis believes that battle could prove key to the outcome of the game.

“I think on paper they have probably got one of the best midfields in the league,” he said.

“If you them quiet you have a chance of winning the game because they have some serious talent in the middle of the park.

“Hopefully we can do our job and get on top of them.”