Two factors have helped Paul Keegan emerge as one of Rovers’ stand out players this term according to the Irish midfielder.
Keegan has transformed from injury prone, bit-part player to key man in a matter of months, becoming one of the most reliable players in Paul Dickov’s squad.
And the 29-year-old says a burgeoning partnership with Richie Wellens plus competition for places has pushed him on.
“That competition is bringing out the best in all of us,” Keegan said.
“Everyone is fighting for a place and there’s plenty of competition throughout the side.
“I think you need that if you’re going to be a good side.
“It’s pushed us all on, helped us improve and hopefully we can transfer that out onto the pitch.
“It’s helped me being alongside Richie Wellens.
“I think me and him compliment each other, there’s a good balance between the two of us.
“If he goes forward, I stay back or if I go up he’ll sit back.
“We’re both old enough and wise enough to know when the other has gone that we have to sit in.
“I really enjoy playing alongside Richie because he’s a great player.”
Though his place in the side is under little doubt, Keegan hopes to cling on to his starting berth.
But he admits he is more interested in seeing Rovers pick up wins than his own success.
He said: “I’ve got into the team and I’ve kept my place for a few games so hopefully I can keep it for a few more.
“Obviously the thing that counts is if we win games or not.
“We’ve played some good football this season but there’s been a lot of games where we’ve been good for the three points but haven’t taken them.
“I think we’ve surprised a lot of people with how we’ve gone about things and with how well we’ve been playing.”
Keegan believes the tough run of games at the start of the season has brought the best out in Rovers.
This continues on Saturday with the trip to Reading – making eight of the top nine in the Championship to have faced Rovers already.
Keegan said: “I think you’ve got to step up to the occasion or you won’t play.
“The big games are bringing out the best in us individually and as a team.”