Damien Johnson admits his midfield trio of Travis, Tomlinson and Hardcastle are driving the Rovers Under-23s team forward.

They were instrumental in Rovers moving seven points clear at the top of Premier League 2 Division Two as they ran out 3-0 winners at Wolves on Monday night.

Willem Tomlinson opened the scoring in the first half, while Lewis Travis claimed an assist when Joe Nuttall made it 3-0.

Captain Lewis Hardcastle was at his busy best alongside them, with Johnson admitting the trio are playing well above the Under-23s level.

He said: “They are good kids first and foremost.

“You have to keep on top of them but they do drive themselves and drive the standard within the group.

“It’s important and they have to keep doing that. Their challenge is to push on to the next level and none of them have really done anything yet, a few appearances here and there.

“They have to show the manager that he can trust them on a regular basis and it’s not easy to do that given the quality we have in the first-team.

“They have to keep showing at this level they are better than the opposition and hopefully when opportunities do come they are ready to take it. “

A cagey opening saw Rovers have to wait until the half hour mark to take the lead, Tomlinson finding the bottom corner with a 25-yard effort which arrowed in to the bottom corner.

Tyler Magloire scored from a set play to make it 2-0 before Nuttall finished off an excellent team move midway through the second period to make it three, his 20th goal of the season.

And Johnson added: “I think they paid us a lot of respect in how they set up. They allowed us to have a lot of the ball and sat in and tried to make it difficult for us.

“We had to be patient, move it quickly and wait for our opportunities and capitalise on them when they came.

“We did create and got the goal at a good time but 1-0 at half-time is always a precarious lead but we got the second and third thankfully.

“Opportunities were going to be few and far between because of how they were set up.

“Willem’s strike from the edge of the box, he caught it really cleanly and he can do that, we just don’t see it enough.

“He has a good shot on him, he has good technique and can strike the ball well.

“We’ve been challenging the midfield players to add a bit more productivity in that final third and try and get goals and assists. You can’t always rely on your attackers, particularly with the balance we’ve had recently.

“We had Joe back but previous games we’ve only had one attacking player available and it was about where the goals were going to come from.”

Rovers are seven points clear of closest challengers Aston Villa (who are due at Ewood Park next month) with three games to play.

Lancashire Telegraph: