Christian Walton believes Andy Fisher can challenge to be No.1 at Rovers – but feels regular game-time out on loan will benefit the young stopper.

Walton completed his loan spell at Rovers last month, playing in all 46 Championship matches, and has now returned to Brighton where he intends to challenge for a first-team spot.

His departure, along with that of back-up option Jayson Leutwiler, leaves 22-year-old Fisher as the most experienced of Rovers’ goalkeeping options which Tony Mowbray will be desperate to strengthen this summer.

Fisher had two loan spells at Northampton Town and MK Dons last season, but failed to make a league appearance. He and Joe Hilton both have 12 months left to run on their deals, with Academy graduate Jordan Eastham having been in the squad at Luton after signing a two-year professional deal.

Walton’s Rovers loan was his seventh of his career, playing more than 150 times, and he said: “Fish has been unlucky not to play because he’s a great goalie and I’ve seen his quality in training so I know he could play at League One and League Two level.

“He just needs to go out and find the right fit for him and get as many games as he can so he can come back and challenge.”

Fisher featured in all three of Rovers’ Checkatrade Trophy matches in 2017, while he has also spent time on loan in non-league with FC United of Manchester.

His three appearances for the Cobblers all came in the Checkatrade Trophy, returning to play three Under-23s matches for Rovers, before a switch to MK Dons where he was an unused substitute in the second half of the campaign.

Fisher has a handful of appearances on the bench for Rovers in recent seasons, without making his debut, and Walton, two years his senior, believes a loan switch would be invaluable.

But he admits it can be tough for a loan goalkeeper with just one space up for grabs.

Both Fisher and Hilton, who signed from Everton last summer, could be allowed to leave on loan to further their development, should Rovers be able to source two goalkeepers in the window.

It was a path that David Raya took, with the Spaniard crediting his spell with Southport in 2015 as invaluable in his development which could see him playing in the Premier League next term.

Walton, signed as Raya’s replacement after his move to Brentford, will be eyeing the same with Brighton, after gaining plenty of experience during his days of being a loan ranger.

He added: “It’s been excellent for myself, especially as a goalkeeper because you don’t want to be sat around not playing because you get stale.

“You want to be playing on a Saturday and it’s key for any young player, especially a goalie to get out and play as much as you can.

“It can be really hard. I’ve been lucky to go out and play at every club that I’ve been at.

“I think it can be tough, you’re not the club’s player, you’re just on loan, so they’ve not invested money in you and know you’re probably going to go back.

“I think that’s down to yourself to go in to training and show what you can do, putting in good performances and then you’ll play.”

While incoming loan signings have proven key for Rovers in recent seasons, particularly under Tony Mowbray, their success rate when loaning players out, has been mixed.
Scott Wharton has been one benefactor, but several other have failed to gain the first-team experience Rovers would have wanted during their temporary stays.

Walton has played at least 30 times in each of his three season-long stays so far, two coming with Wigan, and it’s something he would recommend to any young player.

“I personally think it is the best thing for any young player unless you’re getting the chance within your own first-team set-up,” he explained.

“I think you have to go out and experience playing in front of fans, first-team football, and the pressure of matchdays and getting those three points.

“I think it’s vital to help your career kick on and improve.”

Meanwhile, Rovers haven't made a bid for Charlton Athletic stopper Dillon Phillips, despite reports on social media.