ROVERS will look to make around eight signings in all this summer as Tony Mowbray prepares to work with a smaller squad than last season.

Mowbray has brought in midfield pair Peter Whittingham and Richie Smallwood in the close season and is closing in on a deal for Gillingham playmaker Bradley Dack.

Rovers currently have 17 players under contract for next season who have Football League experience, with Mowbray looking to take that number to around 23.

Eleven players left the club following relegation, with Connor Mahoney set to make that 12 after turning down the offer of a new deal to stay at Ewood Park.

But when asked if all of those 12 would be replaced, Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I don’t think that many.

“We are probably working to seven or eight, probably eight, because I think the squad was quite big last year.

“In League One I don’t think we will be carrying the same size squad but it’s about keeping the quality high.

“And if we can keep together the squad that we have then the quality will be high.”

Mowbray has already stressed the importance of keeping together the squad Rovers currently have if they’re to make an immediate challenge for promotion in League One next season.

Defenders Wes Brown, Gordon Greer and Adam Henley, and midfielders Jason Lowe, Danny Guthrie and Hope Akpan were all released by Rovers in the wake of relegation from the Championship.

Loanees Stephen Hendrie, Tommie Hoban, Sam Gallagher, Marvin Emnes and Lucas Joao all returned to their parent clubs before Rovers’ summer business got under way.

Mowbray has already strengthened in the middle of the pitch, but is also looking to add at least one attacking midfielder to his ranks, with Dack his main target.

However, Rovers have had to be patient in their pursuit of the 23-year-old, with Gillingham holding out for as big a fee as possible for the 2015/16 League One player of the year who has 12 months left to run on his current deal.

Mowbray is the man in charge of the club’s recruitment this summer following the departure of former Director of Football and Operations Paul Senior a day after relegation was confirmed.

And the Rovers boss says closing deals isn’t an easy business as he eyes further incomings before the players return to pre-season training on Wednesday.

He added: “It is about working hard to try to secure players but that is not easy this time of year.

“Ideally you want the bulk of your squad together for when you come back for pre-season.

“Players are holiday, chief executives are on holiday and managers are on holiday so it can take time to get deals over the line.

“It is not easy to nail down players as the bargaining power is still with clubs, but as time goes on it becomes that bit easier.

“We want to get as much done as we possibly can before the players come back for pre-season so it’s about making and taking a lot of calls.

“Hopefully we will have some more news for the supporters soon, being able to announce more signings, and then keep working hard to make more.

“Bit by bit, we’re getting there.”