Ben Gladwin was something of a forgotten man but Tony Mowbray wasn’t ready to cast aside the 27-year-old when his contract expired in the summer.

It is two years since Gladwin last played, but he is now back training with the first-team squad and closing in on appearing for the Under-23s as part of the next stage of rehabilitation.

Gladwin’s injury problems started in November 2017, before a set back saw him ruled out of the rest of the League One promotion campaign. He was part of last summer’s travelling party to Austria before enduring another injury hit season in 2018/19.

Gladwin then suffered a further setback just as it approached decision time over his future, with Mowbray taking the decision to hand the attacking midfielder a short-term deal in a bid to prove his fitness by undergoing his latest rehabilitation at Brockhall. 

That will soon come under review, though Mowbray is just happy Gladwin is able to join in with the squad once again.

He said: “What I see is the player we signed, 6’3, strong, powerful, plays off both feet, shoots with both feet.

“Yet when is he ready? I’m still in daily conversations with the medical department about him. They are overseeing his transition back in to, not full-time training, but a programme of training sessions. Then he’ll have to play.

“He’s close to having some game-time. That doesn’t mean with the first-team at this moment, but my first thought for Ben is to get him fit and eligible to play football again.

“If he scores three hat-tricks in his first three appearances for the Under-23s then we might talk about extending it until the end of the season, or he might want to take his chance on the open market. Let’s wait and see.”

Gladwin is yet to start a league game for Rovers, with six of his 11 appearances coming in the cup competitions.

His form for Swindon Town prompted Mowbray to make a move for Gladwin in 2017, but he struggled to break in to the side before injury struck.

During his two years at Loftus Road he made just six Championship starts, and Mowbray admits Rovers’ progress since Gladwin last featured means an extended deal appears unlikely.

The Under-23s have five more matches before the end of the calendar year, offering Gladwin a chance to get some much-needed match minutes.

“We’re not rushing to go and offer him a new three-year deal on the back of the last two years,“ Mowbray added.

“But I signed him because there’s a lot of talent there. I don’t think he started his career with Blackburn Rovers fantastically well, he found it difficult to make that adjustment.

“I’d seen him playing in League One for Swindon and he was very good, too good for that level. Too big, too strong, too powerful, scoring goals.

“We’ve obviously moved on and past that level now. Whether he gets that opportunity here again, time will tell.

“I don’t have to sit here and make that decision now. Let’s leave him in his own time to get himself fit.

“He’s got another six weeks before his contract will expire with us and then we’ll have to make a decision whether we offer him another short-term deal or whether he wants to go in to the market and try and ply his trade.”

With Gladwin’s most recent injury coming as his contract was set to expire, Mowbray was keen to offer him a short-term deal to allow him to continue his rehabilitation at Brockhall.

“We did extend his contract because he ran out of contract and was injured,” Mowbray explained.

“I didn’t want the club to cast a player aside injured who can’t go and ply his trade.

“We struck a deal with him, gave him more time until January. He’s in a situation where he’s trained three or four days with the team.

“He doesn’t train consecutive days but he has a rest and then trains again.”