Tony Mowbray feels Darragh Lenihan’s leadership qualities shine through when captain Charlie Mulgrew isn’t alongside him – despite that being the preferred partnership of the manager’s time in charge.

Lenihan has impressed since his return from a 10-game absence which has coincided with improved defensive displays.

His partnership with Derrick Williams could be given an extended run, having been used in the wins against Nottingham Forest and Derby County, despite Mulgrew now being back fit. The Scot has captained Rovers for the last two seasons, and has excelled in that role, but injury has seen him miss 13 Championship matches, with Rovers keeping clean sheets in six of them.

“Charlie has had one or two injuries and Darragh has missed games which was a blow to us,” Mowbray said. 

“He’s a young player, just turned 25 and I think he relishes the leadership side of the game. Sometimes with a natural leader alongside him it can dilute a little bit. But without Mulgrew, he takes on the reins.

“Does it (his leadership) dilute a bit when Charlie is there? Possibly. Because you have two big characters there and a level of respect and sometimes that can dilute the personalities.

“He becomes a really dominant footballer.”

Lenihan has started 30 of Rovers’ 42 Championship matches, the bulk of those missed appearances coming after sustaining a knee injury in the defeat at Brentford on February 2.

That was the start of Rovers winning just one of their next 10 fixtures, with Mowbray believing it is no coincidence that the return of the Republic of Ireland international has coincided with an upturn in form.

Mulgrew himself has had injury problems, with the defeat at Aston Villa on March 30 the first time since the FA Cup tie at Newcastle United on January 5 that both he and Lenihan had been available at the same time.

And the boss added: “I think the combination of them has been successful for long periods, Mulgrew and Lenihan.

“That was the pretty stock choice through the League One season when we could, and in the early part of the season when we could.

“Great credit to him. I think Darragh Lenihan is an exceptional footballer for us and I’m sure he has big things in front of him and I hope that’s with this football club.

“Hopefully he can bring that steel, grit and determination to win every football match with him as we move forward.”