Rovers’ first campaign in the bottom rung in 12 years begins in unfamiliar surroundings at Accrington today where the club will be backed by over 1,000 supporters on their first competitive fixture in the East Lancashire town since 1961.
The shine of a positive summer of recruitment has been dimmed by a serious injury to Luke McCullough and a crowded treatment room with several other key players, including Craig Alcock, Mathieu Baudry and Gary McSheffrey, currently sidelined.
The upshot is that Rovers are seriously depleted going into today’s opener with manager Darren Ferguson needing his senior players to bring leadership to the table in what could be a testing first month of the campaign.
Chief among that number is marquee summer recruit Tommy Rowe, with Ferguson confident that he and others can step up to the plate as Rovers seek to draw strength from adversity.
Ferguson said: “I know Tommy well and he is at his best when he enjoys his football and I get on very well with him. Even though the experience was not great here with us getting relegated last year, he really enjoyed it and he will be a really big player this season.
“I was not convinced we would get Tommy in League One. So his signing has been the big one with no disrespect to the others who have been good signings for different reasons.
“I do feel Tommy is a Championship player, but I think he has understood what we are trying to do as a club.
“I have worked with him before and he went to Wolves and it wasn’t a great time for him and he didn’t enjoy it.
“But he is relishing the challenge here and will be a leader for us and we will need him.”