JACK Payne says the race for an automatic promotion spot is exactly the reason he made the January switch to Rovers.

Payne was recalled from his spell at Oxford United by parent club Huddersfield Town before joining Rovers on loan until the end of the season.

The 23-year-old has made eight appearances so far for Tony Mowbray’s side.

Rovers go in to Sunday’s pivotal game with Wigan Athletic six points clear of the Latics after a run of four consecutive victories.

And Payne, who will be eyeing a third straight start on Sunday, is relishing the promotion run-in.

He said: “It’s great to be part of a team pushing for automatic promotion.

“We’re top of the table so we’re delighted about that and it’s great to be involved in this situation and hopefully we can keep winning.

“To be involved in this kind of situation is perfect for me.

“It’s exciting and there’s a lot of pressure on it and it’s something I thrive off and am enjoying and the exact reason why I signed.”

Rovers picked up 12 points in the space of 14 days to cement their place at the top of the table.

The win over Bury on February 19 was the first time this season that Mowbray’s men had made it to the League One summit.

With at least three teams fighting for the two automatic spots, Payne says Rovers can do no more than take control of their own situation over the remaining 11 games.

He added: “The most important thing is that we get our points.

“If we lost and they lost that doesn’t make us happy. We want to win and if they win then they win.

“A lot is in our control.”

Wigan arrive at Ewood Park trailing Mowbray’s men by six points but have four games in hand.

Nothing could separate the two sides in their October meeting at the DW Stadium with the Sky cameras in town for tomorrow’s crucial fixture.

A win for Rovers would heap the pressure on Paul Cook’s men who also have the lure of an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Southampton later this month to think about.

And Payne said: “It’s a massive game, a six pointer. If we can get the win it would be massive for us.

“This is a great opportunity for the boys, we all know that. That’s the plan and we want to do everything we can to get there.”                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Payne has been impressed by the level of the Rovers support since joining the club. The fans packed out the Banks’ Stadium as well as taking a combined 2,500 on long away trips to Portsmouth and Plymouth earlier this month.

Rovers were also backed by 778 fans at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday, and the former Southend man believes the support can play be a big part in the run-in.

“I think Walsall was a great example,” the playmaker said. “It was like it was a home game for us and gave us that little edge.

“It’s great to be involved in, the atmosphere was great, the noise was great and it obviously makes a massive difference.

“Hopefully they know that and we appreciate it, the support has been great.”