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One of the toughest parts of the job

Tony Mowbray reflects after the departures of five Rovers players and two loanees

25 July 2020

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Tony Mowbray says releasing players in one of the toughest aspects of his job after Rovers bid farewell to five members of the squad.

Danny Graham, Richie Smallwood, Dominic Samuel, Jayson Leutwiler and Sam Hart have all been informed that they will not be offered new contracts by the club, whilst Tosin Adarabioyo and Christian Walton have now returned to Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion respectively after spending the season on loan at Ewood Park.

Discussions will continue with Stewart Downing about extending his Ewood Park stay for another campaign after an impressive maiden season with Rovers.

And although the calls to allow some long-serving characters to depart were tough, Mowbray says Rovers can't afford to stand still and must evolve to improve on the 11th place finish in 2019-20.

“As soon as we lost to Millwall, those discussions started," the boss revealed to iFollow Rovers when reflecting on the decisions of who would remain and who would depart.

“Over the course of the last three years, we’ve seen the break up of a team that did so well in the history of the club.

“It’s time to move and to create a new team that gets people talking about the team of 2020-21. That’s what football is. It’s not personal at all because I love these guys.

“Every time I don’t pick a [Charlie] Mulgrew, a Graham or a Smallwood, it hurts because we’ve been on a journey together and they’ve won amazing games.

“Charlie Mulgrew scored 30 goals across two seasons from centre half, and yet the club has to move on and the team has to evolve.

“When I sit them in the office and have a chat to them, we’re speaking as friends really, two guys.

“I think and I hope that they don’t feel they can never pick the phone up to me if they want some advice in life or in football.

“If they need a leg up, if I can help, I’m here. I hope the relationships are still strong, but my job is never easy, especially when it comes to telling players that this is the end," he added in typically honest fashion.

“It’s not something I enjoy doing. Why? Because they’ve been great for me, they’re good guys who have given me everything they’ve got, they’ve played through injury, they’ve turned up when we’ve needed them.

“It’s tough when you have tough days and tough calls to make."

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