Tony Mowbray sees tomorrow night’s Lancashire Senior Cup tie as a perfect chance for some of Rovers’ fringe players to get minutes – but the boss won’t be forcing anyone to feature.

Mowbray revealed he left the decision with his players on who wanted game-time as Rovers begin the defence of their Senior Cup crown against Accrington Stanley at Leyland.

Under-23s boss Billy Barr will take the side, with a mixture of Academy and senior players expected to make up the XI against Stanley, who they beat in last year’s quarter finals.

Rovers have largely fielded their Under-23s side in the competition, but in the middle of an international break and just six games in to the season, Mowbray says it could be an opportunity to hand vital minutes to players who have struggled for opportunities so far.  

“I think it will be a mixture,” Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph of the make-up of the team.

“We have gone through that with the players. I think there will be a few senior players, players who need game-time.

“I’ve said to them it’s important that they are ready.

“I don’t bully senior footballers in to playing.

“I’ve said to them that there’s a game on Tuesday and they should think about whether to go and chat with the Under-23s coach about getting some game-time.

“The younger ones I can tell that they need to play.

“With the senior players, what’s the point of me telling them they’re playing for the Under-23s and then they don’t apply themselves?

“I leave it with them. If they’re telling me that they want to play then I know they will run and chase and do the job.

“It will be a bit of both. There will be some players that need game-time who you’d consider to be senior players.”

Richie Smallwood, pictured, is yet to feature in the Championship this season and the midfielder is among those likely to come under consideration.

First-team trio Dominic Samuel, Harry Chapman and Sam Hart have all boosted their first-team hopes in recent weeks with outings for the Under-23s and are again expected to feature.

Samuel netted twice in a 5-3 win over Brighton last week, giving Barr his first victory since taking charge.

The 25-year-old striker has missed 12 months of action with a knee injury, but Mowbray is pleased with the progress he’s making.

The boss added: “Dominic just has to get the confidence after long-term injury to compete in a game where no-one is worried about coming back from injury, they just see him as a centre forward.

“He has to have the confidence of being robust, playing his game, getting stuck in and when we see all of things I know he can score goals, know he’s fast and direct.

“Hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s competing with the other strikers at our club to get in the team.”