GARY Bowyer admits Blackburn Rovers have been handed a testing start to the Championship season – but it is one that has left him brimming with excitement.

Rovers will face Cardiff, Norwich, Wolves, Wigan, Derby and Fulham in their opening eight matches.

They are all teams Bowyer believes will be battling for promotion come the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

But the upbeat Rovers boss is relishing the prospect of taking them on.

“On paper it does look tough,” said Bowyer, whose side finished last season unbeaten in 12 matches and just two points outside of the play-offs.

“But you’ve got to play those teams at some point so why not at the start? It will be tough no matter when we play them.

“What it does show – and I said this at the end of the season – is that the Championship has got stronger.

“You look at the money some of the clubs are spending, including Cardiff, and it shows just how competitive this league is going to be.

“But it’s exciting and we can’t wait to get the season going now.

“We’ve just got to prepare correctly and do everything we possibly can to make sure we are as competitive as we were toward the end of last season.”

Rovers will kick off the Football League campaign on Friday, August 8 with a home game against relegated Cardiff City that will be shown live on Sky Sports.

And it is a game that has really got Bowyer’s pulse racing.

“It’s going to be a great fixture against one of the boys who have dropped out of the Premiership,” said Bowyer, whose squad includes former Bluebirds Rudy Gestede and Craig Conway.

“And the fact that it’s live on Sky on a Friday night and that it will literally kick off the whole English football season just adds to the excitement.”