Tony Mowbray felt a failure to add permanent signings in January was the biggest disappointment of last month’s transfer window.

Rovers were the only Championship club not to make a signing before last Friday’s deadline having tried to make loan and permanent additions.

While loan deals for Tariq Lamptey of Chelsea and Newcastle winger Christian Atsu fell through at the last minute, it was an inability to bring in contracted signings that was of particular disappointment to Mowbray.

He says those are key to his long-term vision for adding value and assets to the squad which has been supplemented by the homegrown crop of Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan and Lewis Travis.

“There’s a frustration with us all about the transfer window,” Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“I’m not overly worried about short-term loans, we had a few that fell through, but the answer is to build the club, the infrastructure, to find the good players that we can afford, not spending millions and millions, but young players we know we can improve.

“And then somewhere down the line we have a team of young players that will be coveted by other teams but doing the job.

“The January window is tough because no-one wants to sell their best players and if they do they’re extortionate prices. Otherwise it’s loan players and I’m not sure they’ll really improve our starting XI.

“Transfer windows you have to try and improve and the frustration is that we didn’t improve this year, we didn’t add anyone.

“We found it very difficult to find the right value, the plan moving forward is to find some gems as we would call them, Bradley Dack is a gem you find, but where are those players?

“We have to scour them, we have to find them. Not just in the UK but in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and that’s what we’re striving to do.

“We found it really difficult in this window particularly with some of the foreign deals we were trying to do. I think clubs felt we were still in the Premier League and everyone should be £5m-£10m.”

Mowbray revealed Rovers received enquiries for some of their contracted players last month, but didn’t offer any encouragement for them to be followed up with bids.

Rovers made just one cash signing last summer, bringing in Sam Gallagher for £5m from Southampton, but saw several other deals for overseas signings fall through.

That is a market Rovers are exploring, having invested heavily in their recruitment department and are in the process of appointing a head of European scouting.

David Raya, who left for Brentford in a £3m deal last summer, is the only seven-figure sale during Mowbray’s three years at the club, but he says player trading could become a key part of the club’s long-term future.

“I think we’re getting there. There was some interest in our players this window, we didn’t have to fight it off, we just ‘no’ and they didn’t come back,” he explained.

“But you know you’re getting it right when the phone rings constantly for lots of players.

“Your ability to say ‘no’ because you have aspirations is what you have to do. I hope some of the young players coming through the Academy have value.

“Dack, Rothwell, Armstrong I’d like to think they have more value than they were brought in for.

“As this window showed, you can’t do it every window, but the plan is to do it every window to bring in players that are going to grow in value and somewhere down the line if you have to sell one of those players to bring in another three over a period of time you’ll have a club full of assets.

“I’m not sure we’re full of assets, but I think we have several good assets at the club at the moment, some through the Academy, some brought in. Let’s keep going and trying to build it.

“The frustration isn’t that we didn’t sign a superstar footballer who would make the difference in this window, but we missed out on an opportunity to sign some young players who might become the next Bradley Dack.

“I’m hoping Jacob Davenport before the end of the season people will say ‘wow, what a tidy player he is’. We have to keep trying to find them.

“I’m not sure we have to spend £300,000 on every player, but set a parameter of around £1m, £2m but we turn them in to £20m players and if we want to sell then we do it again and sign three or four players.

“Within a few years, and this might be after my lifetime, I’m just saying how we should look to do it as a club, try and create assets so we’re not having to spend huge amounts on one player.

“This is why the recruitment department is here, ‘go and find the gems’,

“I’ve said it many times before, you have to find the pebbles in the beach you can turn in to diamonds rather than picking a diamond off the beach.”

Mowbray marks three years at Rovers later this month, with Rovers heading in to this weekend’s game with Fulham 11th in Championship.

The manager is under contract at Ewood Park for another two-and-a-half years and admits every decision he makes is with a view to the longer-term, despite the pressures associated with modern-day football.

Whenever his time comes to leave Rovers, he hopes to do so with the club in a better position than the one he inherited.

“You have to manage the club as if you’re going to be here forever and manage it with integrity and honesty.  That’s how I try and do it,” he said.

“If there’s some money to spend I won’t go out and think ‘I’m just going to spend it on him who might help us’.

“I’m trying to build the club, I always feel that I leave clubs in a stronger position than I find them.

“People might argue Coventry didn’t happen like that, but the finances dictated that we could only bring loan signings in, Armstrong, Kent, Murphy and they were fantastic for that year, but when they go back after a year you’re left with the youth team.

“I think that’s the balance of short-term gain against long-term profits and benefits. I think there’s a balance between the two.

“We could have brought in some loans but they would have been gambles, might have paid off, but could have been terrible.

“First time loans sometimes don’t fire and it’s not until the second loan that you get the benefit of players.

“My frustration is that we didn’t manage to buy some players to add to our squad, even if we were going to have to wait for them for a year to become the player we know they will be.

“It was difficult this window as everyone can see because we didn’t add because we couldn’t get the deals over the line that we tried and tried and tried to.”