Rovers returned to pre-season training on Monday but Stewart Downing wasn't among those reporting for duty as his contract offer remains unsigned.

Downing has been offered new terms by Rovers, but after his previous deal ended last month, he is a free agent and able to speak with other clubs.

And the 36-year-old, who impressed in his 43 appearances, wasn’t part of the extended group who returned to Brockhall for their first session of pre-season after a three-and-a-half week break.

Downing also didn’t travel to Luton Town on the final day of last season, leading to questions over whether he had played his last game for the club.

However, Rovers revealed in the retained list that they had opened contract talks with the former England international over extending his stay for a further year having joined as a free agent in 2019 after leaving Middlesbrough.

Downing stated earlier this year that he was keen to stay at Rovers, but a new deal would have to be reached with no option in the deal that brought him to Ewood Park last summer.

Those talks have continued in recent weeks, with Tony Mowbray keen to keep Downing as part of his squad for the 2020/21 season, but almost a month on from Rovers publishing their retained list, there is no suggestion that any agreement is close.

Included in the retained list was the departures of Jayson Leutwiler, Sam Hart, Richie Smallwood, Dominic Samuel and Danny Graham at the end of their contracts.

Christian Walton and Tosin Adarabioyo also returned to their parent clubs at the end of their loan deals, and no new signings to date, Rovers called up a number of Academy prospects to supplement numbers in training.

They included the likes of Louie Annesley, Lewis Thompson, Brad Lyons, Jalil Saadi and Tyrhys Dolan who arrived from Preston North End last month, after the Under-23s were included in the testing programme to allow them to take part.

Also back training was Scott Wharton, keen to impress after his season-long loan spell at Northampton Town who are keen to re-sign the 22-year-old as they embark on life back in League One.

But the absence of Downing was the biggest talking point of the first day back, but Rovers haven’t given up hope of him extending his stay at the club.

They return to action on Saturday with the first of four pre-season friendlies, a trip to Fleetwood Town (1pm) the first of four matches to be played in the close season.