John Buckley has had plenty of highs and lows this season but is determined to finish strongly as Rovers aim to climb the Championship table.

Buckley spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Sheffield Wednesday but his time at Hillsborough was cut short after picking up a shoulder injury.

He returned to action at Cardiff in midweek, coming off the bench for the final half hour against the Bluebirds.

“It was a good feeling,” he smiled. “I played last week for the under-21s and it was good to put the shirt back on. It had been a while.

“It wasn’t a great game, I think everyone can agree on that! First and foremost, it was good to get out there and be back playing football again.”

The midfielder is now hoping to get a run of games under his belt and build some momentum after a frustrating few months.

“I thought I had a really good pre-season but then it was a bit stop-start,” he explained. “I went to Sheffield Wednesday and it was a really good experience.

“I have been here since I was six so it was good to experience something new. I played some games but it was a bit stop-start there as well with the injury, which was frustrating.

“I am feeling good at the minute, I feel fit and sharp. I was on the grass pretty early and running, so my fitness is OK.

“Obviously, there are 13 games left so I wanted to get back as quickly as I could and finish the season strongly. I want to help the team and enjoy my football again.”

Buckley had to be patient for opportunities during the opening weeks of the campaign, although he did get on the scoresheet in the Carabao Cup ties against Walsall and Harrogate, and his decision to go out on loan was swayed by the prospect of regular playing time.

Lancashire Telegraph: Buckley on target against Walsall earlier this seasonBuckley on target against Walsall earlier this season (Image: Camerasport)

“It was a bit of a weird situation,” he recalled. “I just wanted to play games and at times I didn’t really feel wanted in a sense.

“I had played against Harrogate a few days before and played really well, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be involved on the Saturday. It was up in the air.

“But obviously I love it at Blackburn, it is my club. It was good to experience something different but it is good to be back now.”

Despite his temporary Yorkshire switch, the 24-year-old says he always envisioned returning to Ewood Park to fight for his place in the side.

With Lewis Travis out on loan and John Fleck injured, Buckley now has an opportunity to make his mark and nail down a place in John Eustace’s starting line-up.

“I am not really thinking about that,” he said. “I am just thinking about enjoying my football.

“With me, it is usually football, football, football so when it is not going the way I want, it is frustrating at times.

Lancashire Telegraph: Buckley in action for Sheffield WednesdayBuckley in action for Sheffield Wednesday (Image: PA)

“But it has been good for me to learn over the past year or so and I feel like it will help me going forward.”

There had been talk of the midfielder being recalled in January, but that decision was ultimately taken out of Rovers’ hands following his injury.

When asked if he was expecting to spend the full season with the Owls, Buckley replied: “It is tough to say, I am not too sure about that.

“I knew that I was probably going to start a few more games at Sheffield Wednesday before the injury, so I am not sure how that would have affected things.

“But like I said, I love it at Blackburn. I am really close to the lads here and I feel like I can help the team push forward and up the table.”

Eustace’s side currently sit 16th in the table with a six-point cushion above the drop zone heading into the business stage of the campaign.

“I think everyone would like to be in a better situation but I am confident that we are all going to be fine,” Buckley stated.

“We have got a few big games coming up against teams around us so it would be nice to get a couple of wins.

“We have also got some really tough games with teams right up the table, but every game in this league is tough. Each team brings something different and it is just about picking up points.

“I think we have been more solid recently. It probably hasn’t been pretty to watch but I think there is a good base for us going forward.”

He added: “I wanted to come back as early as I could and get back playing with the lads. We want to be higher up the table than where we are so I wanted to be involved as quickly as I could.

“I told the gaffer last week that I felt ready. I was meant to play in the under-21s game against Derby but with Flecky getting injured, it pushed me forward.”

The new Rovers head coach is the fourth manager Buckley has played under this season, with Danny Rohl replacing Xisco Munoz in the Sheffield Wednesday hot seat several months ago.

“It is all about learning,” he said, thoughtfully. “We had Tony Mowbray for so long and playing for a lot of managers in a short space of time has probably made me appreciate some things a bit more and see things differently.

“I haven’t worried too much about trying to impress the managers, I have just been focusing on myself, enjoying my football, playing how I can play and trying to help the team.”

The 24-year-old has played in several different midfield roles, but which job does he enjoy doing most in the middle of the pitch?

“I like dictating the play - getting on the ball, getting things ticking and playing people in,” he beamed.

“I also like trying to defend a lead and being solid. I like the togetherness and I think we have got a good base with how the new manager wants to set up.

“I feel like it will be good going forward and hopefully we can pick up a few wins in the back end of the season.”

Buckley could be involved against Norwich and knows it will be a tricky fixture against a side full of confidence.

However, the midfielder is relishing the challenge and hopes Rovers can take something from the game.

“Norwich are doing really well at the moment, they seem to be flying and it will be a tough game,” he continued. “If we can pick up something, it will be another confidence boost going forward.”