Dan Butterworth faces a further six weeks on the sidelines as he looks to put ‘a horrific year’ behind him.

Tony Mowbray is a known admirer of the 21-year-old who hasn’t had any match minutes since the end of 2019 having struggled with a series of back issues.

Butterworth impressed when featuring for the first-team in the pre-season of 2019, but has since managed just six appearances for the Under-23s in which he scored four times.

Jack Vale is another Rovers prospect out injured, with his return schedule slightly ahead of 21-year-old Butterworth, with both on the fringes of the first-team scene.

Joe Grayson made his long-awaited injury return on Monday, but Butterworth still has some way to go.

“Probably five to six weeks. I’m not really thinking about Dan at the moment,” Under-23s boss Billy Barr said.

“We said about Joe having an horrific year, Dan has had an equally horrific year so it’s going to take them six months to get back to where they were.

“They’re going to have to be patient, it’s not going to happen within a game but it’ll be about managing their game-time and training time.”

“We’ll find out when the sports science and medical department tell us so we’ll just work with what we’ve got for now.

“When Dan comes back it’ll be like a new signing.

Rovers Under-23s have started the Premier League 2 season in fine form with victories over Manchester City and Leicester City.

Manchester United are next up at Leyland tomorrow (2pm) with Grayson set to make his second appearance after 12 months out injured with both hamstring and groin problems.

Grayson was credited with the opening goal in Monday’s 4-0 win, as Lewis Thompson’s shot deflected off him into the corner, having replaced Daniel Ayala after 60 minutes.

The Spaniard was able to boost his own fitness with minutes for the Under-23s, while John Buckley, Jacob Davenport and Harry Chapman were all involved in Monday’s fixture, but aren’t expected to feature tomorrow.

Grayson has made two senior appearances for Rovers, and had a loan spell at Grimsby Town in 2019, but will now need to rebuild somewhat after his injury struggles over the course of the last 12 months.

“It’s been a horrific year for Joe, it’s pleasing that he got half an hour there, scored off Lewis Thompson’s shot, so he’s taking that,” Barr said.

“Young lads that have spent a long time out we’ve got to be careful that we don’t overload them and they get the game-time and training time right so that we can keep them out on the grass.”