THREE of the four players offered deals by Rovers have now signed their first professional deals with the club – with defender Tyler Magloire the only one yet to commit.

Head of Academy Eric Kinder was happy with the number of contracts offered this season, and hopes the trio can flourish in the Under-23s next term before pushing for first-team honours.

They join Joe Rankin-Costello in graduating from the Academy this year, after the teenager signed his first pro deal in January.

“It’s about normal – we went a lot higher last season,” he said of the number of professional contracts offered.

“When I first came back the reserve team wasn’t in great shape, we had to make a lot of changes between Gary Bowyer and myself and we had to get rid of a lot and create a development squad.

“We were lucky that year that our Under-18s got to the semi-final of the Youth Cup so we managed to take 10 or 12 and they are the players you are seeing now.

“The length of contract we gave allowed them time to grow up and that’s what you’re seeing now.

“It’s completely different now, this group of players all want to play for Blackburn Rovers.

“When I first came back (in 2013) and took over I found that they didn’t want to be here.

“I would have liked a couple more, just for numbers wise to allow the better and older ones the chance to go out on loan and giving them the best possible chance of being a professional footballer with us.”

Many of the Under-18s stepped up to become a regular part of Damien Johnson’s Under-23s last term. They included Dan Butterworth who was promoted to the older age group after netting 12 in 18 games for the Under-18s.

The former Manchester United youngster went on to score three times for Johnson’s men in the pursuit of the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-offs.

And Kinder, who finished the season assisting Johnson after David Dunn’s short spell as first-team coach, was pleased with the 17-year-olds impact.

He added: “The lads that have gone up from the Under-18s to Under-23s have not let themselves down, Dan Butterworth has taken to it really easily.

“Is that because we held him back until Christmas time because he was scoring goals for the Under-18s and we knew that he could finish, but could he go on and do that for the Under-23s? 

“The staff got together and we felt it was better he stayed down with the 18s for a little bit longer so that when he went to the Under-23s he actually set off scoring goals.

“We have found a new position for him that he’s learning just to give him another string to his bow.  His goals have dried up a little bit, but his all-round game has come on.

“Long-term he will be a centre forward, but it will be great if we can get that number 10 role in to him.  He’s a bright footballer and can drop in there if you need him to.

“If you look at the way he’s progressed this season he’s had the perfect year really.

“If you look at how the second years have progressed from where they were last summer to now, they are a credit to themselves.”