Rovers have opened conversations with Premier League clubs over potential loan signings – with close links to top-flight clubs in the north west aiding their cause.

Manchester City are ready to loan out Taylor Harwood-Bellis, with Rovers among those to be considering a move for the 18-year-old.

The two clubs developed strong links last season when Rovers took Tosin Adarabioyo on a season-long deal, the 23-year-old impressing enough to earn himself a move in the summer to Premier League side Fulham.

Rovers have watched Harwood-Bellis at close quarters, not least when he featured for City’s Academy side in the FA Youth Cup in October. He didn’t play when the two sides met at Under-23s level at Leyland in September, but captained City to Youth Cup victory the following month.

The teenager has played twice for the City first-team this season, both in the EFL Cup, starting the win over Bournemouth and coming off the bench in a 3-0 win at Burnley.

Harwood-Bellis is yet to make a league start for City, but is highly-rated by the club who see a loan move as crucial to his development.

Joleon Lescott, one of City's loan managers, worked closely with Rovers during the course of Adarabioyo's loan deal which could prove to be a key factor in any decision over Harwood-Bellis' destination. 

Rovers are in the market for a centre half, with Tony Mowbray having been given the green light to add to his squad in January by owners Venky’s.

That comes as Daniel Ayala faces up to four weeks out with a hamstring strain, with Derrick Williams and Scott Wharton longer-term injury concerns.

Bradley Johnson has been forced to fill in at centre half, including for the weekend win at Birmingham City.

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite is another who Rovers have spoken about, though the 18-year-old former Carlisle United youngster has been on the bench for Carlo Ancelotti’s side in their last three matches.

Branthwaite, who made four Premier League appearances last season before injury struck, played against Rovers Under-23s earlier this season, a game Mowbray watched at close quarters.

Another young defender who impressed against Rovers this season was Liverpool central defender Sepp van den Berg.

The 19-year-old scored against Rovers’ Under-23s last month, and also played in the June friendly between the two first-team sides as they geared up for the 2019/20 re-start.

Liverpool have their own injury issues at centre half, with Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams both forced to fill in during recent matches.

Van den Berg is yet to feature in a senior matchday squad, and there has been conflicting information about his availability in January, which could well come down to Liverpool’s ability to add in that position this month.

The Reds and Rovers have too been closely linked, particularly of late, following the arrival of Harvey Elliott on a season-long loan deal in October.

The Premier League champions have been impressed with Rovers' work with the 17-year-old having not initially planned to loan Elliott out before their approach.

Rovers have two loan spots available in their squad, with Elliott, Tom Trybull and Barry Douglas set to see out the season at Ewood Park.