ROVERS reporter Rich Sharpe gives his review of the club’s week away in Austria.


ROVERS looked in good shape, metaphorically and physically, during some intense double sessions in the Salzburg sunshine.

The players were certainly made to work hard, both on the football and fitness side of things, and thankfully stayed away from any serious injuries.

Tony Mowbray was able to get messages about his football philosophy across well, and much of the work was about patters of play and getting his men to express their individual quality.

There was a real intensity to the training sessions, with everyone keen to impress during the week away.

And they will return to Brockhall really hoping to kick on and catch the head coach’s eye in a bid to be in the starting XI on the opening day.

A change of scenery will also have done the squad well, allowing the new signings to integrate in to the group, and a strong togetherness to be forged.


THE young players who travelled with the squad will have gained an enormous amount from the trip.

Andrew Fisher, Scott Wharton, Jack Doyle, Lewis Hardcastle and Willem Tomlinson all travelled to Austria and more than held their own in training and also the friendly match.

What they will have gained from such an experience, as well as facing Europa League opposition in Sparta Prague, can’t be underplayed and they will hope for many more outings for the first-team in pre-season.

They will likely get further chance to impress against York City tomorrow, but their challenge for the upcoming campaign is to stay in the first-team picture.

Having had a taste of life in the first-team set-up, they will do everything they can to remain among it.


IT WAS a stern test for Rovers and one the players, and Mowbray will have gathered a lot from.

Sparta fielded a starting line-up of around six players expected to start their Europa League qualifier later this month, but there was no gulf in class on show.

Indeed, Rovers arguably shaded the first-half, and after recovering from a wave of Sparta pressure at the start of the second period, created some excellent chances to score.

The difference was the 10 minutes after half-time in which Sparta upped their intensity and got the only goal of the game.

But having worked the ball well around and implemented many of the things they had been working on in training, it was a valuable exercise for Rovers.


MOWBRAY had hoped to add a striker, at the very least, to his squad in Austria but for matters outside of the club’s control, that didn’t happen.

Ben Gladwin once again was forced to operate in an unfamiliar striking role, and that didn’t help as Rovers lacked a cutting edge in a first half in which they saw plenty of the ball.

Danny Graham’s arrival on the hour mark made Rovers look a much stronger unit, and Mowbray is all too aware of how he needs to address the lack of numbers in that vital area of the pitch.

Elsewhere, Rovers are looking strong, with competition in most areas, and once the attacking ranks are strengthened, Mowbray believes the squad will simply need ‘beefing up’ with the arrival of some Premier League loanees.