Rovers hope to welcome Premier League opposition to Ewood Park in pre-season with Tony Mowbray saying matches will be the focus of his close season plans.

Liverpool and Everton were opponents in the summer of 2018, but Mowbray has criticised the level of opposition faced in friendlies during his time in charge.

Mowbray will afford his players a three week break before returning to Brockhall to gear up for the new Championship season which is set to get underway on September 12. With Premier League teams unlikely to be jetting off on pre-season tours, given the Covid-19 restrictions, that could pave the way for higher profile opposition for Rovers.

The club released five players as part of their retained list last week, with thoughts quickly turning to next season.

“In my mind the pre-season is going to be about playing matches and getting the players up to speed. We’ll have three or four days making sure everyone is up to speed, everyone’s weight and testing is where they should be and then we’ll be playing,” Mowbray said.

“I hope we play against some Premier League teams at Ewood, and I hope we play against some lower league opposition away.

“We’ll play some games with the ball, some top teams in the Premier League where we’ll be without the ball and have to chase about, and then we’ll be ready.

“The season will then start and then we’re up and running again.”

Rovers gave their players a two-week break during lockdown, with the season halted for more than three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and this short break will come as part of a seven-week build-up to next season.

They will go without their now trademark summer trip to Austria, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, moving quickly in to their friendlies schedule, heightening the importance of players staying fit during the close season.

Rovers could again look to Liverpool for a pre-season friendly, the sides having met last month in a friendly prior to the season re-starting, with the Reds also visitors to Ewood Park in July 2018.

With a shorter break than normal, Mowbray says there is an extra importance on playing retaining their fitness so to hit the ground running on their return.

“They’re going to get two or three weeks break, I’ve been talking to them all and my message is ‘don’t lose your fitness’,” the manager added.

“I’d be up at 6am every morning, going for a run. This period is going to be like having a muscle strain, you miss a game or two, but then you’re ready again and within a week you’re back playing.”