Dominic Samuel's year of frustration is close to ending, and Tony Mowbray admits that the frontman is closing in on a first team return.
Samuel's not featured under Mowbray in over a year after picking up a cruciate knee injury against former club Reading in August 2018.
The 25-year-old has been playing for the Under-23s so far this season, and scored a brace in the 5-3 away victory at Brighton & Hove Albion at The AMEX Stadium last month.
“Scoring goals can only be good for Dominic because he’s been out of action for a long time," Mowbray told iFollow Rovers ahead of this weekend's game against Millwall.
"Every day I watch him train I want him to be competitive but safe.
“I want him to go into challenges and compete every day, and I think that’s coming. He’s scored some wonderful goals away at Brighton for the Under-23s the other week and is looking strong and fast.
“He’s not far away from coming back into the squad. I feel that I need to give him a bit more time to get over those mental barriers more than anything.
“He needs to be competing every day, going into challenges, getting knocked over. We’re happy enough with him so far and he’s not far away.
“He needs that confidence in withstanding those challenges, particularly with what this league brings. If he’s in the team, there are no centre halves who will be kind to Dominic," he added.
“We’ll see over the next couple of weeks. He’ll be chomping at the bit and be desperate to play, but he’s only a few games into the season.
“He’s very direct, very linear and runs so fast. He has a hunger to score goals but it’s about finding the timing and getting it right.
“He’s working hard and I’m hopeful that this year will be a big year for him."
Like Samuel, Harry Chapman has also featured heavilly for the Development Squad, with the boss adding that the young winger is in a similar boat.
“With both Dominic and Harry, they have competition in front of them," he said.
"There’s Danny Graham, Adam Armstrong, Bradley Dack, Ben Brereton. They need to be knocked out of the way.
“For Harry, he’s got to knock them out of the way. Rothwell, Buckley, Downing, Gallagher, Samuel can play wide, there’s real competition.
"You have to knock them out of the way with your form."