Tony Mowbray felt Rovers created an expectancy level with their January results - and admits the loss of Darragh Lenihan to injury has hit them hard.

The Irishman hasn’t played in the last six matches in which Rovers have picked up just one point.

The problems in defence have heightened with injuries to captain Charlie Mulgrew and Jack Rodwell who had been an ever present in 2019 before Saturday’s defeat to Preston.

Rovers face Wigan at Ewood tomorrow, having been promoted alongside the Latics last season. Paul Cook’s men are struggling at the wrong end of the table, as are Rotherham who came up via the play-offs.

And Mowbray said: “We created an expectancy with our performance level and results. At the end of January, which is only six weeks ago, we were four points off the play-offs.

“What’s changed? Lenihan got injured at Brentford. Is that the only reason?

“We’ve lost three games at home 1-0 having gone a year without losing a game at home.

“It’s not like us not to score but we’re playing in a better league.

“There was no expectancy from us other than to test ourselves in this league. Everyone who played last year has had an opportunity to play in this division to see how the get on.

“The summer will dictate what we do next season with our recruitment and see who can help us moving forward.

“I would hope we’ll be a lot stronger in this league, but the teams who came up with us have both found it tough. And I think it gets harder, as teams have in the past, to bounce through the leagues.

“When you have Premier League money, and wage bills of up to £80m it’s not as easy to come out of League One and beat those teams.”

It is six defeats in seven Championship matches for Rovers since January who have slipped to 17th in the table.

Mowbray will have to wait to the summer to make changes to his playing squad and is keen to see Rovers push on after a difficult couple of weeks.

But despite the results, the performance levels aren’t of concern to the boss.

He added: “The players are fully aware of it. If we were getting pumped every week and we thought ‘we were never in that game’ then it would be a concern.

“But that’s not been the case in any of the games I would suggest.

“We could easily have sat here having kept the January run of victories going. They have all been tight games.

“You can throw the stats at me, but we can talk about each individual game.

“They all come across as excuses, but there are no excuses, we’re working hard, the team are performing pretty well, yet we’re not getting results, so we will keep working at the things we believe in. Nothing has changed, we’re in a tougher league this year than last when that performance would have won a game comfortably.

“We’re playing against better players, we’re in a better league, the secret for this football club is to be ambitious in recruitment, not just with players on the grass but with the infrastructure and make it a place that can attract top players and that’s what we aim to start the process of doing this summer.”