FORMER Blackburn Rovers manager Gary Bowyer has returned to Derby County as part of the club's Under-23s coaching staff.

The 49-year-old as joined the Rams as professional development phase coach for the high-flying academy side that will play in Premier League 2 Division 1.

Bowyer left the Midlands club in 2004 - where he was an academy coach for six years following his retirement from playing - to manage Rovers Under-18s side and worked up to reserve team manager.

After stints as first team caretaker manager in 2012-13, he took up the post on a permanent basis before he was sacked in November, 2015.

After leaving Ewood Park, Bowyer managed both Blackpool - who he helped win the League Two play-off final in his first season - and Bradford City.

Bowyer will now link up with Pat Lyons to replace former Rovers player and coach Craig Short, who departed the club to become assistant manager at Oxford United last month.

“It has been a while, but I am delighted to be back,” Bowyer told the club's website.

“It is something that I have always kept my eye on, and to be part of that again was something I just couldn’t turn down."

He added: “I have been fortunate to manage Championship (with Blackburn Rovers), League One and League Two, so for some of our lads – they won’t all make the Championship, but with my experience at being at different levels, I will be able to pass that on to them.

“Also, to help them and educate them on what a manager is looking for. The manager at the end of the day needs to be able to rely on a player and trust him so to pass on those little hints and tips as well will hopefully continue their development.”