Tony Mowbray says he's excited at the thought of Bradley Dack returning to the first team picture in the not-too-distant future.
The 26-year-old has been back in training for the last week or so now following his 11-month lay-off with an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered against Wigan Athletic back in December 2019.
The talisman appeared for 45 minutes in a behind-closed-doors fixture against Sheffield United at the Rovers Academy earlier in the week, and Mowbray is hopeful that the star be back in the frame for a first team place soon enough.
“We’d seen him on the grass in the week building up to that Sheffield United game and he really elevates the quality and the standards in training," the boss told iFollow Rover when touching on the midfielder's progress.
“I think it elevates all the players having Bradley around, just with how tight he is with his control when the ball comes in, he always turns the right way, he always plays the right pass.
“It generally ends up in the top corner when he finishes as well. It’s been good to have him about, it’s lifted the whole environment.
“Hopefully we can have a smooth transition for him at this point. He’s been training well over the last few days and we’ll potentially look to get him in an Under-23s game soon enough.
“Let’s see with him, but you can only protect players so much and then it’s about them swimming really.
“We want him to have that confidence in his mind that he’s ready to play a football match and that’s what we’ll do.
“He loves football, he’s confident and he’s like a kid in the playground really. He loves the game and the sooner he’s back in the first team impacting games then the better it will be for us.
“He’s said after the game that he got a strong tackle and it gave him a lot of confidence that he came out of a challenge and carried on," the manager revealed.
“He’s been out a long time, almost a year, and the more time he has on the grass and around the players, the more time they don’t worry about a 50/50 challenge.
“He’s worked extremely hard, he’s got his weight under control, his body fats under control and his numbers in training are right up there with the rest of the lads."
An announcement this week saw the EFL Board agree to increase the permitted number of substitutes to five in all Sky Bet EFL fixtures for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
And the news may now give Dack an opportunity to get back in action with the rest of the squad at an even quicker rate.
“I don’t think he’s far away now, it’s just about ticking off the last few boxes," Mowbray added.
“When he’s ready for the first team then I imagine he’ll be utilised off the bench for a few games.
“Let’s hope it’s a smooth transition and let’s hope we’re talking about the brilliant goals, the assists he’s created.
“He’s excited by the team. He’s seen the goals [Adam] Armstrong’s been scoring, the development of [Ben] Brereton in the last year or so, the impact of Harvey Elliott.
“Bradley knows it’s not a case of him getting in the team as soon as he’s ready, he will have to have some patience and wait for the right opportunity to fit back in."