Damien Johnson was delighted to see Ryan Hedges back in action for Blackburn Rovers and revealed illness kept Scott Wharton and John Buckley out of the squad.

Hedges made his first Rovers appearance for more than four months after a long-term hamstring injury. Callum Brittain also returned ahead of schedule after missing the last couple of games.

The Welsh winger had been back in training for a couple of weeks and played a behind-closed-doors friendly but it was a surprise to see him thrown straight in from the start against Stoke City.

Nonetheless, Hedges made up for lost time, getting an assist and 67 minutes in the tank. It was a tireless performance at wing-back which earned a great reception as he went off.

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Wharton and Buckley both missed out due to illness, with a virus in the camp. Both players will hope to be involved next week, if not at Birmingham City on Tuesday then against Preston North End next weekend.

"Ryan is an important player for us, he's a very fit lad," Johnson told The Lancashire Telegraph.

"He's been out for a long time but we knew he could cope, maybe not with 90 minutes, but for large periods of the game.

"Typical Ryan, he didn't want to come off when he did. We thought it was the right thing to do and we're just glad these players are back available."

"There has been a bit of illness around the squad," he added on the other absentees.

"John Buckley was ill as well, Scott Wharton has been ill all week. There has been a virus going around, we've had to manage that as well."

Harry Leonard and Billy Koumetio missed out on the matchday squad whilst Hayden Carter and Harry Pickering remain on the sidelines.