Not so long ago, Tom White was borrowing money from his parents simply to get in training. His career may well have been over before it had even begun.

It's been a long road back from a devastating cruciate ligament injury, but now he has the drive to try and make it in the Rovers first-team.

In the summer of 2016, non-league side Gateshead had to rescind their offer of a professional contract given the length of time he would be out injured, but did provide him the opportunity to use their facilities to get himself back up to speed.

Even then, he needed to impress on trial to earn the contract he’d previously been offered before being loaned out to Spennymoor United, West Auckland, Ashington and Scarborough Athletic.

Then came the breakthrough year he'd been waiting for in 2018/19, making 43 National League appearances, scoring three times, as Gateshead fell just short in their push for a play-off spot.

Approaching 22, and with almost two years of his career already blighted by injury, White felt this was his time to capitalise on his momentum. Rovers came calling with the offer of a two-year deal, but there were opportunities elsewhere in the EFL which came with offers of regular first-team football.

“I had a few options elsewhere, but I think if I’d have said no to Blackburn then I would have regretted it for the rest of my life, it’s that big of a football club,” White told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“The season I had last year I felt I had to capitalise on it and thought this was the best option.

“I was approaching 22 when I heard of the interest so thought it made perfect sense.

“It was a bit of risk. There were chances for me to go and play first-team football in the EFL, but a club the size of Blackburn, I had a look around the facilities and it was a no-brainer, I couldn’t say no.

“It’s a massive gap to bridge from National League to Championship and it’s something I’m passionate about and if I carry on the way I am and keep working hard then hopefully I’ll get a chance.”

In all, White spent four years with Gateshead, having been released by Carlisle at the end of a two-year apprenticeship, but only one of them was as a first-team regular.

His time in the side may have come later than expected, but he credits the north east club with playing a key role in getting him where he is today.

“When I was injured I was part of the Under-19s programme. I got told I was going to get a professional contract at the end of the season but then the injury happened (in February 2016),” he explained.

“I was then told they couldn’t afford, with the budget, to give a player money who would be injured for the whole season so they let me come in and do my rehab and then put me on trial to see if I could get back to where I was.

“To be fair, I think I came back much fitter and stronger from the injury and used that as a positive.

“I went on loan to get my fitness back up.

“It didn’t happen straight away. It took a few more years than it should have but it was a brilliant football club to go to and I wouldn’t change it.

“I couldn’t have been in a better place for those three or four years and it gave me everything I needed.”

The north east twang is a regular sound around the Rovers training ground, with White only adding to that number, and he admits it has been easier to settle in to life at the club than he imagined.

As well as being grateful to Gateshead for their contribution to his development, he also said he owes a huge amount to the support of his parents during what was a ‘torrid time’ in coming back from the injury sustained in an Under-19s fixture.

“My mum and dad have been huge for me. Without them I don’t know where I’d be,” said White.

“They gave me some money, not a lot, to fill my car up to get to training and to live off for six or seven months.

“It was a tough six or seven months, but I am grateful to Gateshead and my mum and dad.

“The physio at the time was a big influence. She treated me like one of the lads, she didn’t say ‘you’re not getting paid so you go to the bottom of the list’.

“She probably saw me more than anyone else even though I wasn’t contracted to the club at the time. It was a hard period but there were good people around me that made it easier.”

The central midfielder has quickly established himself in Billy Barr’s Under-23s side, claiming three assists in the win over Brighton earlier this month.

Now two months in to his time at Rovers, his career has certainly not gone a conventional way.

After leaving Carlisle he admits he could have spent more time on trial at clubs, but settled on Gateshead and life in the National League in a bid to gain regular football.

While White misses aspects of the blood and thunder of the National League, he couldn’t be more enthusiastic about his early days at Ewood Park.

“Everything last year was geared towards getting three points on a Saturday and if you didn’t it was deemed not good enough,” said White who is also an England C international.

“Here, you’re building your fitness up, working on your game, everything is with a view to the long-term.

“It is different but it’s something I’m relishing. I’m in the gym a lot more than before, the sessions are harder and longer, but that’s what I need to improve.

“I miss the playing for three points on a Saturday. But I’m glad I’m getting to experience this, I’ve experienced both sides now and hopefully that will stand me in good stead.”