Rovers have announced the four friendlies which will make up their pre-season schedule.

Tony Mowbray and his players will return to training on Monday, three-and-a-half weeks after their 2019/20 season was finally concluded with the defeat at Luton Town.

The players will undergo fitness testing at the start of the week, but will be quickly in to friendly action as they travel to Fleetwood Town on Saturday, August 22 (1pm).

They will be back on the Fylde Coast three days later when they make the trip to Bloomfield Road to face fellow League One side Blackpool on Tuesday, August 25 (7pm).

Their third friendly sees them head to the University of Bolton Stadium to face Ian Evatt’s Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, August 29, though no kick-off time has been disclosed for that fixture.

Rovers’ sole Ewood match will come on Tuesday, September 1 (6pm) as they host Premier League side Everton.


Rovers faced Blackpool in pre-season last summer, and are heading to Bloomfield Road for the second successive summer.

Last season they were victorious on a day which saw all weathers, with a stunning Adam Armstrong strike followed up by a Ben Brereton second half effort moments after coming on, giving Rovers a 2-0 win.

Rovers have been used to coming up against Ian Evatt in pre-season, having travelled to face his Barrow side last summer, but they will face him this time as manager of Bolton Wanderers.

There they will come up against Tom White, who agreed a season-long loan switch to Wanderers last month.

Everton are also familiar opposition in pre-season, the clubs having faced each other in the summer of 2018 where Rovers were impressive 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Darragh Lenihan, Dominic Samuel and Bradley Dack, and in 2013 where the visitors won 3-1.

Carlo Ancelotti will bring his side to Ewood on September 1, Rovers’ final friendly before the big kick-off.

They start their schedule with a trip to Fleetwood Town where they have fond memories, their win at Highbury in January 2018 sending them in to the automatic promotion spots in League One for the first time after Richie Smallwood’s late winner.


There had been the possibility of Rovers starting their season on August 29 in the Carabao Cup.

Although the first round of that competition is set to start on September 5, that will clash with the first international break of the season, with the EFL announcing clubs could have the option to move those games forward.

August 29 had been mooted as a possibility, however given that Rovers have announced a friendly for that date, it’s expected they will play their first round tie on September 5, without their international players.

The draw for the first round of the competition, which will be split in to northern and southern sections and not be seeded, will be made on Tuesday, August 18, three days before the full 2020/21 fixtures are announced.


All four friendlies will be played behind closed doors. Discussions are ongoing about the possibility of the matches being streamed live for supporters, although no decision has been made yet.

However, it is understood that Everton are expected to be showing the Ewood friendly live on their streaming service at the very least.

Rovers will announce their plans ahead of each of the games.


Tony Mowbray hasn’t always been that happy with the level of opposition that Rovers have faced in pre-season, but this time around, there looks to be a good mix.

There’s a lack of travel which is a bonus, with two trips to the Fylde Coast and a 40-mile round trip to Bolton, before their home game with the Toffees.

Facing Premier League opposition was high on Mowbray’s wishlist, while Fleetwood, Blackpool and Bolton are all further on in their preparations than Rovers and likely to be provide good tests.

Fleetwood were beaten in the League One play-off semi-finals, while Blackpool will be among the favourites for promotion under new boss Neil Critchley having made some key signings this summer.

Bolton are also on a high under new boss Evatt, and will test Rovers with their 3-4-1-2 formation.

Rovers will hope that their fitness doesn’t require much work, coming off their break which followed nine games in 32 days, and plenty of hard work during lockdown.

Mowbray instead will want to see his side dominate the ball against the lower league opposition, and show their cutting edge in front of goal.

Four friendlies is down on the usual six, but in the timeframe, feels the right number.

Before then however, there’s work to be done on the recruitment front, with Rovers seven days away from heading in to their first friendly of the season with Andy Fisher set to start in goal, just as he did at Barrow last summer.