With the EFL set to bring in increased matchday squads and the number of permitted substitutes amid a busy run of fixtures, RICH SHARPE looks at the options available to Tony Mowbray.

It was Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet who argued that the condensing of the final nine games of the Championship season, in to a little over four weeks, would suit the club’s with the bigger squads, not least because of the lack of preparation time.

The Championship is a gruelling 46-game campaign, a hard slog usually contested from August to May. Promotion and relegation aren’t decided on anything other than the whole campaign, but these final nine games will undoubtedly have a unique look to them.

Rovers are one of five clubs to have used 25 players this season. Only Millwall (23) have used fewer. But delve a little deeper in to the numbers and there are some telling stats.

Because out of those 25, Greg Cunningham is no longer at the club after his loan spell at the club was cut short, while Bradley Dack will miss the remainder of the season through an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury. John Buckley, who has featured in 28 matchday squads so far, will miss the first three games back through suspension.

This Is Lancashire:

Also, two of the two 25, Jacob Davenport and Harry Chapman are yet to start a match, with just four substitute outings between them, while four players (Charlie Mulgrew, Ben Brereton, Joe Rankin-Costello and Dominic Samuel) have each started fewer than three Championship matches.

In all, 29 players have featured in a matchday squad. However, four of those (Jayson Leutwiler, Hayden Carter, Richie Smallwood and Matty Platt) remained unused.

Eleven players have all started more than half of Rovers’ 37 league matches, and there have only been a few players, and positions, across the course of the season that Mowbray has chosen to rotate on a regular basis.

Although goalkeeper Christian Walton is the only-present, Leutwiler, Elliott Bennett, Stewart Downing, Danny Graham and Adam Armstrong have featured in every matchday squad. Darragh Lenihan has started all 29 matches in which he’s been available, and he will return from suspension after sitting out the two matches before the break.

Elsewhere, Ryan Nyambe, Tosin Adarabioyo, Lewis Travis, Downing, Armstrong have all proven worthy of their spots in the team.

The returns to fitness of Lewis Holtby and Corry Evans, both previously expected to miss the remainder of the campaign before it was suspended, are both a welcome boost.

But having not played since February and January respectively, will need some time to bed in, and there’s little prospect of that with the expected packed schedule, and an important first fixture against play-off chasing rivals Bristol City.

The warnings of soft tissue injuries, given the players will have just three weeks to prepare after an extended period off, have been regular. Indeed, the Bundesliga saw 12 players pick up injuries in the opening round of matches.

Then there is the added factor of the twice-weekly COVID-19 testing that will continue throughout the remainder of the season.

A positive test will bring with it a seven-day self-isolation period, and 10 days away from the training ground before being allowed to return. That could rule a player out for at least three matches given the schedule.

A positive test within a squad won’t force the whole squad to self-isolate however.

As per EFL guidelines, for that to happen, it would require players to have come in to contact with the individual who had tested positive for 15 minutes or more, at less than a two metre distance. GPS data collected by Rovers suggests that figure is as low as three minutes over the course of a match.

Moving forward, clubs could well become even more coy over releasing the results of their COVID-19 tests so to not give information away about any players who may have missed training days. Small details will play a big part in teams’ preparations.

So far, Rovers have had just one confirmed positive case, with captain Bennett returning to the fold this week after being forced to self-isolate, despite being asymptomatic.

Given those added concerns, it would be expected that Academy products could be thrust in to the fold – however, availability isn’t likely to prove kind to Mowbray.

This Is Lancashire:

Talented attacker Danny Butterworth is coming to the end of his rehabilitation following a second back injury of what’s been a disrupted season, while Platt, Tom White, Sam Hart, Lewis Thompson and Jack Vale all finished the season out on loan so would be unavailable because of registration rules.

Defender Joe Grayson, who has some first-team experience, is also still sidelined with a hamstring problem, though Tyler Magloire could offer some defensive cover.

Stefan Mols could boost numbers in training, and is a possible option to make up the 20-man matchday squad should he be required, but is unlikely to trouble the starting XI.

The picture could become clearer with regards to the Under-23s in the coming weeks, with Platt, Hart, Thompson, Charley Doyle and Brad Lyons among those whose deals expire this summer.

Rovers will certainly feel they deserve some luck on the injury front, and it would be welcomed going in to a packed, and important, schedule.

No sooner had the January transfer window closed, without any new faces being brought in, that they feared being without Dack, Holtby and Evans for the remainder of the season, having already lost Cunningham to a long-term injury in October.

And while Holtby and Evans are now expected to play a part in the remaining games, Rovers being robbed of their star man as their season was gaining real momentum was a huge blow.

That hasn’t proven to be as season-defining as some expected, and it’s to their credit that Rovers have remained in the hunt for a top six finish.

The contracts of Leutwiler, Amari’i Bell, Smallwood, Downing, Samuel and Graham will undoubtedly be extended until at least the end of the campaign, with Rovers having to notify them of their intentions by June 23.

Rovers will need all the numbers they can get - the most important being how many points they can amass in the final nine games.

Appearances in a matchday squad:

37 - Walton, Leutwiler, Bennett, Downing, Graham, Armstrong

36 - Travis, Johnson

34 - Gallagher

31- Bell

30 - Rothwell, Nyambe

29 - Lenihan, Adarabioyo

28 - Buckley

24 - Williams

23 - Evans

22 - Dack, Brereton

19 - Holtby

13 - Samuel

12 - Rankin-Costello

8 - Cunningham

7 - Davenport

6 - Chapman

2 - Carter

1 - Mulgrew, Smallwood, Platt