Paul Dickov has praised Andy Butler for helping bring out the best in defensive partner Luke McCullough.
Butler’s arrival at the club on loan from Sheffield United marked an upturn in defensive performances from Rovers, barring the continuation of their well-documented home woes.
McCullough, in particular, has largely thrived alongside the 31-year-old, and his boss believes having an experienced ahead alongside him brings out the best in the Ulsterman.
“Without a shadow of a doubt it helps Luke,” Dickov said. “He’s a young boy but he’s maturing all the time.
“It helps when he’s got someone, be it Rob Jones, Jamie McCombe or especially Andy Butler.
“It gives him the confidence to go and play as well.
“Having someone as reliable as that beside you gives you a bit of freedom.”
McCullough is at the top of the appearances chart for Rovers for the season alongside James Coppinger and Reece Wabara.
Though more experienced heads have been fit to play at various stages of the season, the Northern Ireland international has remained at the centre of Dickov’s plans.
The 20-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.
Dickov has been mainly positive about the performances of his back five – including goalkeeper Sam Johnstone – which has remained unchanged in five of the last six matches.
Only against Notts County in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy did Dickov opt to switch personnel, with the intent of resting players.
He said: “Enda Stevens has been outstanding the more he has got up to speed and you can say the same thing about Reece Wabara over the season.
“Andy Butler has been fantastic since he came in.
“Picking a consistent back five was a big factor in the good run that we had.”