Tony Mowbray has distanced Rovers from interest in Crewe Alexandra left back Harry Pickering.

Rovers had a bid rejected for Pickering earlier this month and are understood to have been priced out of a move in this window for the 22-year-old who has thrived for the League One club.

The clubs were understood to not be far apart in their initial valuations of Pickering, not least owing to a buy-out fee within his contract, but additional clauses and fees has seen Rovers exit negotiations.

Barry Douglas will now see out the remainder of his season-long deal from Leeds United, with Amari’i Bell also competing for a spot at left back.

Pickering is one of the brightest prospects outside of the Championship, though Mowbray refused to be drawn on any interest in the full back when asked by the Lancashire Telegraph.

He said: “I don’t know about that to be honest.

“We’ve got two left backs, I’m not sure where that came from.

“We’ve got Barry Douglas, we’ve got Amari’i Bell, it would seem mad to me to sign a left back when you haven’t got any centre halves.”

Crewe boss Dave Artell confirmed the details that Rovers had made a bid for Pickering, which had been rejected, and that they were the only club to have placed an offer in this window.

A move has now seemingly been ruled out this month, but Rovers could return in the summer with Douglas only on loan, and Bell, who signed from Fleetwood Town in January 2018, seeing his deal expire, leaving them without any left backs on the books.

Rovers have links to Crewe through their head of European scouting, Glyn Chamberlain, who worked with the League One for four years as head scout between 2005 and 2009.

Mowbray talked down the interest however, though he again stressed that money was tight, and would only likely run to another loan deal this month, despite the preference for permanent deals.

The arrival of Jarrad Branthwaite from Everton means Rovers now have four loan players on their books, the most of any stage of Mowbray’s near four-year tenure.

That is one short of the maximum number allowed in a single matchday squad, with Rovers have signed three players on season-long loan deals on deadline day in October, bringing in Douglas (Leeds United), Tom Trybull (Norwich City) and Harvey Elliott (Liverpool).

The final spot could be saved for the prospect of another central defender before the window closes.

Asked if it would be a loans only policy for Rovers, Mowbray added: “It depends.

“We’ve only got so much money and if you’re trying to loan from the Premier League it generally costs you more than if you’re trying to buy from a lower league.

“Yet it depends on the price of the signing really.

“We will wait and see what order things fall in and hopefully they fall in.

“I’m sitting here trying to improve the football club.

“I’d always prefer to sign players because then they’re our players and we can improve them and move them on for our benefit, and not for that of other clubs.

“But short-term, we’re three centre halves down and that’s why we’ve been looking to fill the holes, cover them up and I hope Jarrad can come and do fantastically well, but the fact will be that he’ll only be doing fantastically well to go back to Everton.

“That’s why you always want to sign your own players if you can.”