Mike Sheron hopes several of his players’ experiences with the Under-23s will prove invaluable as Rovers bid to book their place in the last eight of the FA Youth Cup.

A host of the Under-18s have been given a taste of life in the more senior academy side in recent weeks and impressed for Billy Barr’s men.

They will be back with Sheron as they look to overcome Preston North End tomorrow night to set up a meeting with Arsenal in the last eight at Ewood.

Captain Isaac Whitehall and defensive partner Flavien Enzo Boyomo, full back Dan Pike, wingers Luke Brennan and Sam Burns, matchwinner in the last round win over Charlton, have all played for the Under-23s in this calendar year, with Sheron hoping they can stand-out in Tuesday night’s game.

“It’s what we want because some of these lads have been playing youth team football on a Saturday for the last three years,” Sheron explained.

“The Under-23s is their natural progression and the chance to do that is really important. It’s what they want and they get motivated by that.

“As a team you might not get as much time as you want, but from an individual point of view it’s that progression that we want to see. That’s our goal in the end to get individuals through.

“It’s a natural reaction, what we want to try and do is make that when they do come down they understand it’s the work ethic, team ethic, determination to succeed, that doesn’t change irrespective of what team you’re playing for.

“To everyone else they’re the ones doing well, it’s great when your better players play well, it’s easier.

“But it’s an opportunity for everyone, whoever starts in the team or comes on as sub it’s an opportunity to impress and that’s what we try and encourage everyone to do.”

A potential quarter-final tie with Arsenal awaits the winner which would be a fourth consecutive home fixture for Rovers in the competition having so far beaten Newport and Charlton.

Burns’ goal was the stand-out moment against the Addicks last month, with Rovers unable to find any fluency on the ball, and relied on a strong rearguard display to see out a 1-0 win.

Sheron called for an improvement and added: “I think the lads were slightly frustrated the fact we actually won the game but were harsh with them and a bit disappointed with the performance.

“I felt we were very lucky to get through, but we have to give them credit, they did get through. It’s about winning games of football, it’s a good habit to have.

“We probably don’t do it enough on a Saturday programme when you’re playing against Liverpool and Manchester United, so when you play the Cat Two and Cat Three clubs you’re expected to win.

“But these teams are also winning week in, week out at their level.

“We’re really happy to still be in the competition and have a chance to reach the quarter-finals of the Youth Cup and it’s an opportunity we hope we’re going to take.”

The Under-18s have played just two league matches since the last round win over Charlton, losing 3-2 at home to Middlesbrough and then 1-0 to Manchester United on February 1.

That leaves them 10th in the table with four wins from their 14 matches.

Sheron says the group having an input is key to their development and is looking for leadership qualities to stand out in the competition.

He said: “It’s something we definitely encourage. It’s fantastic when you have leaders in your dressing room that you can rely on. 

“We still want some of them to be more forthright with their opinions, communicate them a bit better, but they’re only 16, 17 and 18 and it’s a big challenge for them. They’re good attributes to have.”