Tony Mowbray admits it has proven difficult for Rovers to strike the perfect balance with their pre-season friendlies this summer.

The club confirmed Rangers as their sixth and final close season match last week, all of which will be played away from home.

Mowbray was critical of Rovers’ preparations for the 2017/18 promotion season, believing a lack of proper tests in pre-season contributed to a slow start in the league, with Rovers losing their opening two matches.

That summer, Rovers played Sparta Prague during their trip to Austria but have since shifted their European tour to the first week of pre-season, concentrating more on fitness.

Last year Rovers hosted Liverpool and Everton, but there will be no game at Ewood Park this time around. The level of opposition varies from National League Barrow to League One sides Bury and Blackpool and Rochdale, with games also against Scottish Premiership side Rangers and League Two Mansfield.

“They were difficult this year,” Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph of this summer’s matches.

“We like the bigger games but we didn’t manage to get the balance 100 per cent how we would have liked.

“Rangers away is a very tough game for us.

“We’re looking forward to them and I’m sure the supporters that will travel to those matches will enjoy them.”

Rovers’ summer plans this year are a step-up on 2017 when they played two non-league sides in Barrow and York, and three League Two sides as well as Czech outfit Sparta Prague.

Though this year does seem a downgrade on last year when Rovers faced the Merseyside Premier League duo, as well as Scottish Premiership side Hibs, League Two sides Lincoln and Port Vale and League One Accrington Stanley.

Rather than the level of opposition however, Mowbray is preferring to focus on the benefits of what pre-season can bring as he looks to implement a new style ahead of the upcoming 2019/20 season.

The boss believes Rovers will need to dominate the ball more in games if they are to progress up the table.

“I do think that if we’re to develop a more in possession based game, build more from the back, something that’s been high profile recently, but I do feel as though it’s the way forward,” he added.

“I think we showed in the last six or seven weeks of the season that we can build from the back and play through teams if they sit deep.

“If they sit back then we can use the pace of Armstrong to get in behind, so I think they are good games to build our philosophy.”

Pre-season fixtures

Barrow away - Saturday, July 6 (3pm)

Rochdale away -Sunday, July 14 (3pm)

Mansfield away - Wednesday, July 17 (7.45pm)

Rangers away - Sunday, July 21 (3pm)

Bury away - Wednesday, July 24 (7.45pm)

Blackpool away - July 27 (3pm)