Stewart Downing became Rovers’ first summer signing on Friday, agreeing a one-year deal after leaving Middlesbrough.

It is an intriguing deal in the sense it is a move away from the usual recruitment of players who the club see development in.

While there will be understandable scepticism over Rovers signing a player who turns 35 next month given the mistakes of yesteryear, this feels so much different.

Speak to anyone about Downing and you will only find great testimonies about his character, and as we saw with Jack Rodwell, on a 12-month deal, it is very low-risk.

Even Tony Mowbray has conceded that the 34-year-old former England international has left his best years behind him. But that’s not to say he can’t play a big part next season.

With more than 660 career appearances to his name, the majority in the top-flight, as well as 36 England caps, there is undoubted pedigree with Downing.

Those days of seeing him fly down the left wing may well be a thing of the past.

That’s not to say he can’t operate on the flanks however, particularly given Mowbray’s preference for one of his two wide players to be a little more conservative, an approach he did shift away from in the final weeks of last season, however.

And given the form of Joe Rothwell and Adam Armstrong, and Rovers, in the closing weeks, it’s hard to see those two won’t be given first go on the flanks.

But don’t rule out Downing featuring in either of those positions, particularly given his quality of delivery, and the likelihood of a waiting Danny Graham in the middle.

He also played in a more central role for Middlesbrough of late, something Mowbray had tried with Craig Conway last season. And the boss hasn’t ruled out Downing fulfilling a similar role either and it could be a smart move, given the desire to play a more possession-based style.

Either side of an advanced midfield role in a 4-3-3 would be a possibility, and with an excellent left foot, would provide balance.

As Boro legend, and former team-mate of Mowbray, Bernie Slaven, told the BBC: “He seldom gives the ball away” (I sense a chant coming on).

And the Rovers boss admits Downing’s versatility did hold the key to his arrival, as well as his human qualities.

“That’s one of the main reasons we’ve brought him here,” he said, speaking to the club website.

“He can play centre midfield, he can play wide right, wide left, he could even play left-back, serving the ball deep from those positions into the strikers, if the game dictated.

“People have learned over the last few years that I like players with the ability to play in different positions - Elliott Bennett being a classic case.

“He’s played at right-back and he’s also played on the left wing, the right wing and in centre mid. I think Stewart will bring that versatility to our squad as well.”