Sam Hart will be eligible for Rovers’ remaining games this season after the EFL made changes to their rules to permit returning loanees to feature for their parent clubs.

Hart’s deal was extended through to the end of the 2019/20 season, but having spent the second half of the campaign with Shrewsbury Town, would ordinarily have been unable to feature for Rovers.

However, with the League One season curtailed, the EFL will allow players such as Hart to be re-registered though Andrew Fisher won’t be able to feature having been on loan at two separate clubs during the 2019/20 season.    

The ‘keeper started the season with Northampton Town in League One before a January switch to League One side MK Dons, although he failed to make a league appearance for either.

Scott Wharton won’t be able to feature once his spell with the Cobblers is up either, given Keith Curle’s side made it in to the play-offs where they will meet Exeter City in Monday’s final.

Despite being eligible, it appears unlikely that 23-year-old Hart will feature for Rovers, given the criteria outlined by the EFL.

That means that returning loanees will only be able to feature should a club not be able to name a full squad without them, with priority given to Academy players.

The criteria include:

  • That the player is returning from a curtailed division
  • The transferee club has not qualified to participate in a play-off competition
  • Without including the player on the team sheet, the transferor club would be unable to fulfil all available places on the team sheet
  • The transferor club gives priority to its under 23 players, scholars and other academy players who have made at least one first-team appearance in a league match (or a Premier League match) for the transferor club
  • The player has not been on loan to more than one club during the 2019/20 season

Hart enjoyed a strong pre-season for Rovers, before injury struck in the friendly at Mansfield.

The 23-year-old, signed from Liverpool in the summer of 2017, hasn’t played for Rovers since December of that year and has since had two spells on loan at Rochdale, as well as moves to Southend and Shrewsbury Town where he played four times before the season was curtailed.

Rovers are short at left back at the moment, with Amari’i Bell and Derrick Williams both ruled out of the trip to Wigan Athletic, while Joe Rankin-Costello who filled in against Bristol City is doubtful.

Under-23s left back Lewis Thompson has been training with the first-team of late, and is available despite finishing the season out on loan, with his having been with National League side AFC Fylde.

However, captain Elliott Bennett could get the nod at the DW Stadium, with Ryan Nyambe set to return at right back following a dead leg.