In a garden, somewhere in Redcar, you will find a washing line attached to a piece of scaffolding with a football hanging from it.

That’s where Rovers boss Tony Mowbray, a central defender in his playing days, learned the art of heading.

It is a training aid that proved vital in a playing career that spanned three decades and saw him make 678 appearances.

It is a point raised by Mowbray ahead of today’s visit of Preston given Rovers’ problems with dealing with balls in to their box in last weekend’s defeat to Rotherham. Indeed, it’s an area they have struggled in since Darragh Lenihan limped out of the defeat at Brentford on February 2.

Mowbray admits it is a difficult craft to teach, not least in the four training sessions this week, but comes down to the desire of an individual.

“You can improve every aspect of someone’s game. Whether you can do it over the course of three or four days’ training over the course of week is another question,” he said.

“These things are developed from the age of six or seven for the next 10 or 20 years. You either do it or you don’t do it.

“I have said the story before, it’s still there in my mother’s back garden in Redcar, there’s a washing line with a bent scaffolding pole with a ball hanging out in a bag basically.

“You can adjust the height of it and from the age of seven I have been heading footballs.

“I learned my trade over 20 years. It’s very difficult over a week to help someone who’s struggling to get his footwork right, his angles right, because heading a ball isn’t just about heading a ball.

“It’s about the timing, eye-ball contact, when to jump early depending on who you’re playing against. Sometimes you don’t have to jump, you can just edge someone out of the way.

“It’s difficult to pass on your knowledge and information in the space of three sessions. Sometimes you have to buy the assets you want.”

To cure Rovers’ defensive troubles, which have contributed to a run of six games without a win, Mowbray knows it may require delving in to the transfer market this summer.

Rovers’ current centre halves, Jack Rodwell and Charlie Mulgrew, are happier with the ball at their feet, while full back Ryan Nyambe has also struggled under the high ball.

Mowbray added: “I’ve always bought assets. If a team needs speed, you buy speed, if it needs strength, buy strength, if you need someone whose game is around heading the ball, then do that.

“You look to take all the reasons of why you’ve lost games and take them out of the equation. So when you go to Rotherham hopefully you’ve got two 6’4” centre halves who have built their game around heading the ball.

“Then when you’ve got Rotherham at home we have our footballers who can keep the ball, build from the back, ask questions of them, and then have to sweep something up back to the goalie and start again.

“Players for different types of games is where you want to get to.

“You can do drills, as I’ve spoken about with Ryan over the last couple of years on improving aspects of his game. Most days after training he’s out there practicing, trying to get better.

“You see improvements, but they’re marginal, he’s not turning in to John Charles overnight. It will be something he has to work on for the rest of his career.”