Would it be too simplistic to draw the conclusion that Rovers’ form can be linked to the availability of Darragh Lenihan?

Rovers have had their defensive struggles over the course of the last two seasons, and are yet to convince they have overcome the difficulties that saw them ship 69 goals on their return to the second tier in 2018/19.

But studying the statistics and correlation between wins, clean sheets and Lenihan’s availability highlight just how big a player the Irishman has become.

Lenihan overcame a knee injury that ruled him out for six weeks in time for Rovers' three-game winning run after the November international break, the last two of which he has been named captain.

He is undoubtedly Rovers’ most physical defender, and we saw what a gaping hole he leaves during the meek surrender in the second half at Preston where they were roughed up by Jayden Stockley.

Whether he would he have had the same impact were Lenihan, who won 12 headers in the win at Stoke City, available is certainly up for debate.

Under Tony Mowbray, Rovers have now played 80 Championship matches. When Lenihan is fit, he plays, being on the bench on just one occasion (the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough last December).

Lenihan has started 59 matches in that run, with Rovers taking 94 points out of a possible 177 at a win percentage of 42. They have still conceded 75 times, but kept 19 clean sheets.

That is a clear contrast from the 21 matches in which he has missed, where Rovers have won just four times, kept two clean sheets and have a win ratio of 19.

So far this season, the statistics have perhaps been even more striking. In the 13 games in which Lenihan has started, they have won seven times, kept five clean sheets, and amassed 25 points out of a possible 39. Without him, they have won once, the last-gasp victory over Sheffield Wednesday, and claimed four points out of a possible 18.

The Lenihan and Derrick Williams partnership offered promise at the end of last season, Rovers winning four matches out of six, and the start of this season, collected four clean sheets in five matches from the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough to the 2-0 win over Millwall.

Williams’ absence coincided with Lenihan’s return and gave Mowbray the opportunity to field what he may well have identified as his first-choice partnership, with the Irishman playing alongside Manchester City loanee Tosin Adarabioyo, the sole central defensive addition this summer.

With Lenihan and Adarabioyo, as well as Williams, Rovers are able to defend higher up the pitch, something the boss felt unable to do with captain Charlie Mulgrew in the back four.

Tougher tests defensively lie ahead, not least in upcoming away games with Swansea and Bristol City, but everything just feels that little bit more secure with Lenihan around.

With Lenihan: P59 W25 D17 L17 Against: 75 Clean sheets: 19 Points: 94/177

Without Lenihan: P21 W4 D5 L12 Against: 35 Clean sheets: 2 Points: 17/63

With Lenihan 2019/20

Played 13 Won 7 Drawn 2 Lost 4 Points: 25/39 Against 16 (came off before the fourth against QPR) Clean Sheets 5

Without Lenihan 2019/20

Played 6 Won 1 Drawn 1 Lost 4 Points: 4/18 Against 11 Clean Sheets 0

With Lenihan 2018/19

Played 34 Won 14 Drawn 9 Lost 11 Points: 51/102 Against 48 Clean Sheets 11

Without Lenihan 2018/19

Played 12 Won 2 Drawn 3 Lost 7 Points: 9/36 Against 21 Clean Sheets 1

With Lenihan 2016/17

Played 12 Won 4 Drawn 6 Lost 2 Points: 18/36 Against 12 Clean Sheets 4

Without Lenihan 2016/17

Played 3 Won 1 Drawn 1 Lost 1 Points: 4/9 Against 3 Clean Sheets 1