JOE Nuttall is desperate to play a bigger role for Rovers this season but knows making that a reality will be easier said than done.

The striker scored the winner in the 2-1 win at Barrow on Saturday to get his pre-season off to the perfect start.

And after three goals in 18 appearances in all competitions last season the aim is clear for the 22-year-old.

While Nuttall wants more game-time at Ewood Park he knows however that with Danny Graham and Bradley Dack among his competition, becoming a regular will be far from straightforward.

That’s even before Tony Mowbray brings in any new recruits in the final third.

“Regular football is the aim for me but at the minute we’ll see,” said Nuttall.

“There’s plenty of competition in the team and new players are coming in.

“You see Danny Graham and Dacky last season scored 15-plus goals each so it’s always going to be hard.

“My aim is just to keep working hard and see what happens.”

Nuttall’s development will no doubt be helped by a more experienced dressing room this time around.

Seasoned campaigners Stewart Downing and Bradley Johnson have arrived at Ewood Park while Charlie Adam was part of the team at Holker Street at the weekend as he trains with the club before deciding on his next move after leaving Stoke.

“As well as the new lads there’s Danny, Charlie (Mulgrew), Benno (Elliott Bennett), even Dacky, they are the senior players to look up to and learn from,” said Nuttall, who has 51 senior career appearances  to his name.

“There’s a lot of younger players in there like myself and it’s good to have senior players who have been around the block and let them share that experience with us.

“It’s only going to be a benefit.

“The players who have come in have got quality but so have the lads that are here already. It’s just about competing for places and that’s going to make us better as a team.”

Nuttall ticked the major box for any striker at the start of a new season in Cumbria, getting off the mark in terms of goals.

The frontman profited on good work from Adam to fire home what turned out to be the winner in the 64th minute.

“I’ve said before there’s no better feeling that scoring goals,” said Nuttall.

“League games, pre-season friendlies, it doesn’t matter, I just want to score as many as I can.

“I enjoyed the one on Saturday, it was a good finish.

“Hopefully it can be the first of many for me this season.”

The goal capped a second half display which saw Rovers in full control against their National League opponents.

Mowbray has already been working hard on implementing his possession-based style for next season and Nuttall is confident things are changing for the better.

“It was nice to get a game in and it feels like the hard work is paying off,” said the former Aberdeen man. 

“I felt better in the game this year than I did last year, just for the fact we’ve done more football this pre-season.

“The manager wants to make us a more technical and tactical team and I think that’s going to pay off a lot this year.

“The tactics and standards have been set from day one.

“The manager and the coaches are looking to employ a philosophy to help us keep the ball better and attack better and keep teams pushed back.

“You saw a glimpse of it on Saturday and hopefully come the start of the season it will be even better.”

It is all being done with the aim of making Rovers a more formidable proposition at the sharp end of the Championship table in 2019/20 as they look to improve on 15th on their return to the second tier last time around.

“We showed in the first half of last season that we’ve got the quality to compete with the top teams,” Nuttall said.

“I think even more so now, the aim is to be in and around the play-offs and get this team out of the division.”