APPRENTICE and master, old head and young pro, the clichés are obvious to make from a central midfield duo of Lewis Travis and Stewart Downing.

But in truth, it is a role that both are still learning, Travis having played much of his football growing up as a right back and Downing more famed for his efforts on the wing during a long and distinguished career, one which still has a few chapters more to run.

While Travis was making appearance number 52 in his career against Nottingham Forest, Downing has topped 700, including 35 for England.

Downing won plenty of plaudits for his midweek display, not least coming away with the man-of-the-match award and he has had a growing influence on this new-look Rovers side in the opening weeks of the season having agreed a one-year deal in June.

In Travis, Downing sees a player doing work that others might not necessarily notice, but a role that is integral to any team.

And for someone who at 21 has enjoyed breakthrough 2019, the maturity levels Travis demonstrates is a facet of his character that Downing, 14 years his senior, admires.

“He’s certainly done well since I came in,” Downing explained of Travis who scored in the defeat to Luton.

“I’ll be honest I didn’t know much about him having come in from Middlesbrough but what I’ve seen of him, for a young lad he’s mature for his age.

“A lot of young players can be a bit inconsistent, a bit up and down, but he seems a level-headed lad who plays well and does a lot of things that people might not want to do.

“That’s his position and he does it well, he breaks up the play and is very important for the team.

“Whether it’s him, Corry or Bradley, it’s a big job for anyone to do in the team and it helps us get forward more.”

Downing was trusted with a deeper central deeper role against Forest, though did play as part of a midfield three against Millwall last month before switching to a two alongside Bradley Johnson in the second half.

Asked what Mowbray was looking for when giving him that different role, Downing added: “Just to get on the ball, create and get it through the lines, in to those dangerous players and given licence to get forward a bit.

“We are taking a bit of a risk because it’s not a natural position for me to be playing, but I think playing at home we can do that and I think we dominated.

“We had quite a lot of the ball and the manager has stressed in certain games I can play there and I certainly enjoyed it.”

Johnson missed out against Nottingham Forest, as he had done in the win at Reading last month, with a recall against Luton sandwiched in between.

On that occasion, Corry Evans  came in to the side, while the addition of Lewis Holtby has further added to the boss’ central midfield options.

And it’s for that reason that Downing, who has started all but one Championship game so far, knows he must keep his performance level high if he’s to continue getting the nod in whatever position.

“The manager stressed to us that’s he’s got a lot of options and with us experienced lads he can chop and change for different games and with different personnel,” he said.

“It’s been good, it’s difficult for the manager to pick a team and with the quality we’ve got I think we should be aiming high this year.”

Holtby will be competing with Downing for that deep-lying role, but also playing from the right, a position he has taken up in two of his three substitute appearances so far.

Like Downing, he has great pedigree, a regular in the Bundesliga and a four-times capped German international as well as playing in the Premier League.

The 29-year-old found himself as a free agent before being snapped up by Rovers, but his energy and enthusiasm have already been picked up by his new team-mates.

Downing explained: “Lewis is a good player, you can see glimpses of his quality when he comes on.

“He’s another option for us and it will be interesting having a lot of options.

“You will have to keep your performance level high because otherwise you’ll be out of the team.

“Lewis has come in, he missed the start of the season, but is finding his feet and getting used to the way we play.

“He’s certainly enjoying it, you can see that around the training ground, he’s a bubbly lad and he’ll fit in really well here.”

Mowbray may opt for a safer option of Johnson or Evans alongside Travis at Loftus Road today, which could push Downing further forward.

Rovers go in to today’s game looking to head in to the international break on a winning note and make it three wins in six matches since the return to action in September.

They managed to take just one point from two home matches, but have already won twice on the road in four matches, and Downing says expectations remain high.

“We are looking to win the game,” he said.

“We as players are disappointed with the return of points but the bigger picture, it’s not that we’re playing badly, that’s when you do get worried, I think we’re playing well. We just have to get the little things right that the top teams do to get results.”