Tony Mowbray says he has preferred Richie Smallwood and Corry Evans to Harrison Reed in central midfield this season because they ‘play their position’ better.

The Southampton loanee put in an all-action display in the middle of the park in the win over Derby County after being recalled to the side, alongside Lewis Travis.

That was the partnership in Rovers’ previous win against Wigan last month, which happened to be Reed’s last outing from the start in the middle of the park.

The 24-year-old has mainly been used by Mowbray in a wide right role, with a combination of Smallwood, Evans and Travis used centrally, starting 29, 30 and 14 times respectively. Evans was dropped to the bench, replacing Reed in the closing stages, while Smallwood wasn't involved in the matchday 18.

Mowbray was full of praise for Reed though after the Derby win, and when asked why he hasn’t been utilised more in the central areas, Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph: “Harrison needs to learn a bit of discipline about central midfield in my opinion. Normally I play Smallwood and Evans in the middle of the pitch because they stop the counter-attacks and play their position.

“Harrison is naturally a bundle of energy and runs everywhere, he’s out on the wing, he’s in the box, on the left wing, and the midfield is empty.

“He did his job of winning the ball, feeding the team and I thought he did all that perfectly for us. He kept winning the ball back, kept things moving and stopped counter-attacks.

“If he plays like that then there’s no reason he couldn’t play central midfield for us every week.”

Rovers managed 23 shots at goal, and restricted the Rams, who came in to the game having scored nine goals in their previous two games, to just one effort on target.

That gave Rovers only a second clean sheet since the end of January, with Mowbray feeling it was fully deserved from the way his side had performed.

He added: “I watched them (Derby) against Brentford at the weekend and they were amazing with how fast and energetic they were in their attacking play.

“They scored six the game before that against Rotherham and I did feel it was going to be a tough game.

“We played with control because we didn’t want to give them the ball because they are a good team.

“We managed to do that and got a positive result.”