THERE will be no youth team forward on the bench for Blackburn Rovers at Leeds tomorrow, with boss Gary Bowyer admitting he isn’t prepared to risk setting a youngster back by increasing the expectation on him.

Rovers have been short of options up front with Fode Koita missing the last five matches, and they were without a striker on the bench in the Ewood Park double-header against Derby and Burnley.


Against Derby Bowyer turned to young winger John O’Sullivan, who replaced Chris Taylor, to try and alter the game going forward, while in the East Lancashire derby Taylor came off the bench, replacing Nathan Delfouneso.

Anton Forrester has been leading the line for Rovers’ Under-21 side this season, with support from Connor Mahoney, but Bowyer isn’t prepared to risk setting back the development of any of his young stars.

“Not at this moment in time,” the manager said when asked if any of the youngsters could provide a different attacking option from the bench.

“There would be nobody more delighted than us but one thing you can’t do is rush people through and put an expectation on them. That knocks them back.

“I’ve seen it many a time with youth players where people are given an opportunity too quickly and it’s knocked them back and you never hear of them again.”

Instead Bowyer is working on strengthening his forward options through the loan market.

Tom Lawrence is on-loan from Leicester City until early January as things stand, and he has started behind Jordan Rhodes in the last five games, but while nothing is imminent Bowyer is keen to add to the numbers if possible.

“It’s important we keep on looking for the right type to come in and that’s what we’ve done this week,” he said.

“A couple of enquiries have gone in and we’re waiting on answers.”

Rhodes has scored seven of Rovers’ 12 league goals this season, and Bowyer said his players know they have to help take the pressure off the Scotland striker.

“It’s not something we’re hiding from,” added Bowyer.

“Everybody in the group knows they’ve got to contribute more with the goals.

“The pleasing thing is that on Saturday there were other people having the opportunities and chances.

“I don’t think anybody is ducking from that from the players’ point of view.”