Tony Mowbray has reiterated Rovers aren’t yet in a position to make decisions over contracts for next season – but is clear his side can’t afford to stand still.

Rovers have six players out of contract at the end of the season, with three having started the last two matches, but Mowbray says he hasn’t made any promises to those whose deals are up for renewal, and can’t without knowing his budget for next season from owners Venky’s.

The manager says contract situations haven’t come in to his thinking over team selection, with Stewart Downing, Danny Graham and Dominic Samuel all starting the last two matches despite soon to be free agents.

And for that reason he says it would be ‘wrong to assume’ those players are primed for new deals.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “What I do know is that this team has to move on and get better and not stand-still and we have to better next season than we are this season.

“I genuinely sit here today and don’t know what the answer is. I wouldn’t be assuming anything.

“It will depend on the budget whether we have the opportunity to improve, it’s only right that every season we try and improve and bring in new players and create greater competition all over the pitch.

“Whether we can do that because we have some budget to go and buy some players, or whether we need to create some budget by letting players go and using their salary levels, or whether we have to cut the budget and promote some young players.”

Downing and Graham have featured in every matchday squad this season, as has back-up goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler, with the pair keen to stay on at Ewood Park for another season.

Samuel has started three of the matches since the re-start, and played a part in all six, after overcoming long-term injury, but Richie Smallwood and Sam Hart are still waiting to make their first appearances of the season.

All of Rovers’ out of contract players agreed to see out the season, in a boost to the manager, but he admits the players could well be working on lining up options of their own given the uncertainty surrounding Rovers’ situation. But for now, Mowbray is focusing on trying to win Rovers’ remaining three matches.

He added: “I’m trying to win football matches at the moment and utilising what we’ve got to the point of trying to put the best team on the pitch and that’s my only thought and my only concern.

“I know the players will have concerns, in 10 days’ time they’re out of contract, their contracts finish on the midnight of the last game and from there it becomes a real concern for everyone.

“But I still need confirmation from the owners of what we’re doing, where we’re going with the budgets and the money.

“As you can appreciate, we have a budget, you pay wages, you stick to budgets, I always have and never tried to be clever and go over the top of them, I respect the owners of any football club, it’s their money and we spend it as wisely as we can.

“When we know what we’ve got to spend then we can formulate a squad for next season and the priority is to try and improve and get better. We have to take those opportunities if they’re available to us. If we feel the players out of contract can be of help to us next season then we’ll be looking to see how their current contracts fit in to the numbers we’re given.

“Some footballers that you might potentially offer another year to might have a two-year deal somewhere else and it’s not about us, it’s about them, and they’re looking after their families and they are the criteria that come in to this.”