Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray has revealed that Stewart Downing’s first-team opportunities this season will be influenced by team performance, and the availability of other players.
It was confirmed at the start of this month that Downing has returned to Rovers for a second-straight season, although the midfielder has not yet featured for the club in the two games they have played since his return to Ewood Park.
Now it seems as though Downing may have to wait some time longer for his chance in the side, depending on how things are going for those to have already established a place in Rovers’ lineup this season.
Speaking to The Lancashire Telegraph about when Downing might be given a chance this season, Mowbray said: “I think the performance level of the team will dictate that.
“Other times injuries and this virus might dictate that we play him in various positions. If we had signed him a bit earlier he might have been playing at left back.”
Explaining how he could use Downing if Rovers continue their free-scoring start to the campaign, Mowbray added: “If we’re playing a high intensity, on the front, pressing game and scoring four and five goals every week he might have to sit on the sidelines and come on and help see games out for us.
“He can play anywhere with his left foot and precision passing, you just have to be mindful of the opposition’s strengths, but he can fit in anywhere.”
Even so, Mowbray is confident that Downing will be called on to make a significant contribution for Blackburn this season, with the Rovers manager then claiming: “I’m sure he’s got a big part to play, we’ll see how the season unfolds, how the confidence of the team is.”
As things stand, Blackburn are currently 12th in the Championship table, five points adrift of the play-off places, and are set to return to action after the international break on the 21st November, when they travel to Kenilworth Road to face Luton Town.
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I think this is a probably a sensible approach for Mowbray to take with regards to Downing.
Those who are currently in the starting lineup for Rovers have certainly earned their place in the team, so the likes of Downing are going to have to earn their place in the side.
Indeed, with that in mind, it could make sense not to nail down Downing to a particular spot in the starting XI, given his versatility means he can be a useful cover option for Mowbray to turn to in a number of positions.
It is that that ought to make Downing a key asset for Rovers this season, and there will be plenty of Blackburn fans keen to see him in the side sooner rather than later, considering the quality of his performances last season.