Tony Mowbray revealed Craig Conway contacted him directly to explain why he opted to turn down the offer of an extended Ewood Park stay.

Conway, along with Jack Rodwell, were offered fresh deals by Rovers but the Scot chose to end his five-and-a-half years with the club in search of a fresh challenge.

Mowbray would have been happy for Conway to stay, given his qualities both and off the pitch, but said it does free up money to be spent on wages for new recruits.

The 34-year-old had been at Rovers since January 2014 and played 200 times for the club in all, reaching that milestone on the final day against Swansea.

That was a 26th appearance of the season, and 67th in all under Mowbray who took charge in February 2017.

“It opens up some cash for us to put in to wages and Craig will hopefully find the right club to enable him to play,” Mowbray said of Conway’s departure.

“Hopefully it doesn’t come back and bite us on the backside as Craig is swinging in crosses from either side to a centre forward to head in to the net.”

Conway was handed a new one-year deal last summer, which included an option for a further 12 months, in a similar offer to the one made to Danny Graham.

However, he started just nine Championship games, falling well short of the number required to trigger his extension, unlike Graham who reached it in the first half of the season.

Mowbray was regularly complimentary of Conway when he did start, as well as pointing out his influence in the dressing room and impressive performances in training.

But the former Cardiff man is keen to play more regularly in the latter stages of his career, and has stated his intention to stay in the Championship should an opportunity arise.

“Craig needed to get to a certain number of games to kick in another year in his contract and got nowhere near that,” Mowbray added of Conway who scored four times in the boss’ first 15 games in charge.

“I still offered him a new contract.

“He phoned me up man to man and said that he wanted to play football in the last two or three years of his career.

“There was no bad tones, no negativity, he knew the situation.

“I was happy to keep Craig because of the lad he is and the positivity he brings to our training and our dressing room every day.

“But he wants to go and play. And that’s fine.”