There has been much said about Rovers’ ability to bring through defenders, and midfielders, into the first-team set-up from the Academy, but for attacking players, it’s been more of a struggle.

Indeed, the balance of their Under-23s squad in recent years has been weighted to the more defensive areas of the pitch, something the club have looked to rectify in their recruitment.

Rovers’ Under-23s set-up is a little different to many of their Premier League 2 rivals who tend to build squads for that level, whereas the Brockhall operation is centred around bringing through prospects, supplementing them with the odd addition and players rotating between the first-team set-up and Academy side.

This summer, with the hope that Jack Vale and Dan Butterworth would be able to push more into the first-team set-up, Rovers brought in Tyrhys Dolan, after his release from Preston, and Celtic youngster Connor McBride to add attacking depth to their Under-23s.

Dolan’s rise has been well-documented, but McBride’s start to life in blue and white halves has been impressive, albeit at a lower level, and with four goals in three games he’s the leading scorer in Premier League 2 football, having netted against Manchester City and Manchester United and twice against Leicester.

Rovers struggled for a regular goalscorer at Under-23s level since promotion from Division Two in 2018, when Joe Nuttall was the top scorer across the whole of Premier League 2 football.

First-year professionals Sam Burns and Luke Brennan, stars of Rovers’ run to the FA Youth Cup semi-final last season, will be looking to support McBride in finding the goals for Billy Barr’s side, as Rovers look to bring more attackers through their ranks.

And it was that pathway that McBride said made his mind up when discussing the next phase of his career in the summer.

“I saw it as an opportunity to show my talents in a different country and play at a different standard of football and hopefully progress into the first-team.

“A lot of young boys have come through the Under-23s, moving into the first-team and something I’m hoping to do as well.

“That was highlighted when I looked at it with my family and seeing all the players that had made it into the first-team, with Blackburn offering me something I wanted to take it.”

Rovers have had a number of players find the target at Academy level, but never make it for the first-team, with Dean Rittenberg, who earned England youth honours while at the club, a recent example.

While it’s too early to discuss McBride’s possible impact at first-team level, his flexibility across the front line, able to play as the central striker, off either flank or as a No.10, will likely see him become a key man for Barr’s side.

As for McBride, he’s happy to be getting regular football after a difficult time towards the end of his Celtic career.

“I’m happy to get back playing, it was six months from not playing because of Covid and I’m just happy to be back playing.

“At Celtic it was reserve football, but they pulled out of the reserve league last season and we just played friendlies against teams in England or some League One or League Two teams in Scotland.

“But that obviously wasn’t as competitive as these games. It’s much better to be playing in a league format where it’s more competitive.”

That has been a criticism of Under-23s football, that there is more focus on development than results, but McBride doesn’t see it that way.

“I think it’s competitive, definitely, everyone wants to win, no-one wants to be down the bottom of the table,” he added.

“And you want to be doing everything you can to impress the first-team staff and get in their minds.

“It can only make you better playing against these better players.

“The way the first-team play, with such a high press, I think there will be opportunities in the first-team because there will be injuries, and that’s what I’m looking for.”

McBride had spells with Stenhousemuir and Falkirk as a teenager before making the move to Celtic in January 2018. He was back with League Two Stenny last season, scoring once in 14 appearances, but has settled into life quickly at Ewood Park.

A debut goal in a 2-1 win over Manchester City was a promising start, before his impressive cameo against the young Foxes saw him score twice, and set up another for Brennan, in a 4-0 win.

He said: “I’ve been training well and obviously getting some goals and assists has helped, so I feel I’ve settled in well.

“After not starting, when I went on I just thought I had to go on and make sure the next game I was starting. I felt I had done well, got my goals and an assist, and thought I merited a start.”

As for the view from the management, boss Barr says earlier indications are McBride knows where the back of the net is.

“We’ve found him coming away from goal more than going towards goal, we know he’ll take time to get him fit, we knew that, but if we can get him in and around the box, we’ve seen he’s got quality at his feet. It was a positive start,” he said.