EYEBROWS may have been raised in some quarters about Rovers’ signing of Stewart Downing, but Tony Mowbray is convinced he will prove to be a quality acquisition for the club.

While Downing, 35 next month, is a move away from the usual profile of player recruited during Mowbray’s time at the club, the boss is keen to add more experienced to his group.

Downing brings that in the form of more than 660 career appearances at club level, mostly in the Premier League, as well as 35 England caps.

Mowbray has identified a number of roles in which Downing can improve Rovers on the pitch, having snapped him up on a one-year deal, and was impressed by his fitness level when watching during his several trips to the Riverside last season to watch his hometown club.

Downing didn’t travel with the rest of the squad for the pre-season trip to Austria because of a pre-planned personal commitment.

But of his signing, Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph: “We are pleased to have got him.

“The bottom line is that he is a high quality footballer.

“He played 35 times for England and having watched him half a dozen times last season he is still very fit. We are excited that he’s on board.

“He has the right qualities and I know that he will improve our team.”

Downing says his conversations with Mowbray having centred around  how his experience can prove a vital attribute for this squad.

And the former Middlesbrough man said: “The manager stressed to me that he would like me to help out the younger players and that he would like a few more experienced players in, to complement a lot of the talented young players that he’s already got.

“Not just to keep them on the straight and narrow, but to use the experience we’ve had throughout our careers to help them.

“They’re only young lads, they’ve only come into the game in the last two or three years, if I can help in any way I’ll certainly do that and hopefully on the pitch as well, which is the main thing.”

Rovers finished 15th in the Championship last season which included a run of just one win in 11 matches between the end of January and early April.

On the potential within the Rovers group, Downing told the club website: “There’s a lot of young players who are ambitious and who want to do well.

“The manager is really ambitious and he plays football the right way, which I think will get you out of this division.

“Last year, I think they were a bit unlucky.

“They could probably have finished a little bit higher, but maybe that’s where they needed that little bit more nous or experience, and I think that’s what the manager is trying to do.

“It could be a big demand on the young lads, but if the squad gets bigger here, with some more experienced players mixed with youth, then I think we’ll have a really good chance.”