Louie Annesley is learning on the highest stage possible - while still waiting to make his senior debut in English football.

He hasn’t had the most unique of career paths, making his senior debut in the Europa League and having 16 caps for his national team before making a league appearance for his club. For Annesley, he sees it as a positive.

Gibraltar’s fourth-youngest international came up against Norway and their star striker Erling Braut Haaland last week. Although left out for Saturday’s defeat to Montenegro, as Gibraltar made 10 changes, he’s likely to come up against the Netherlands and win cap number 17.

Annesley, who will be 21 when this season comes to a conclusion, is most known to Rovers fans because of his international commitments, still yet to feature for the first-team in pre-season, or make a matchday squad.

He has however, played 14 times, the most of any player, in an impressive season for Rovers Under-23s and has shown good signs of progress at the heart of the defence since first signing for the club in January 2019 from Lincoln Red Imps.

“They are massive games and I always look forward to meeting up with the boys,”  Annesley said of his international exploits.

“They’re the games I want to play in and where I’ll get my experience, I love playing in those games.

“I want to play at the highest level and that’s one of the highest levels there is, and I love going away and representing Gibraltar.

“I think those experiences will help take me a long way as I go in my career.”

Gibraltar first became part of the qualifying campaign for 2016, with Annesley making his debut aged 17 two years later. They were the whipping boys initially, losing their first 18 qualifiers, scoring five goals and conceding just 87.

It was a survival mission to try and keep the scoreline down, but the introduction of the Nations League has allowed to start putting results on the board.

Victories over Armenia, Liechtenstein twice and San Marino have given them something to celebrate, while they are growing more competitive with each fixture.

“We have a game-plan that we try and stick to it, but it’s obviously extremely difficult playing against world class players, playing for the top clubs,” said Annesley who will look to feature against the Dutch tomorrow night (7.45pm).

“It’s tough, but we’re all together, and that’s the thing with football, we’re working hard.

“We’re not just trying to nick points now, we’re trying to win games.”

A left sided centre half, Annesley played as a left back for Rovers in their previous Under-23s fixture.

At 6’4 his skill set are more suited to his favoured central defensive role, but it is infront of the defensive line, in midfield, where he has been utilised for the national team.

“I’m playing in a bit of a different role, it’s one I’ve had to learn and adapt to, but one I’m happy to do,” he explained.

“I’m playing holding midfield which I can do, I can play in there and do that, it’s good. It’s another experience.

“I’ve played left back as well, so it’s all about learning my trade and hopefully one day I can knuckle down a position at Rovers.

“I’m probably one of the tallest left backs there is, but I enjoyed it, perhaps not the most attacking threat, but defensively I’ll be there and I like to distribute the ball, and it’s another experience that I enjoy and get under my belt.”

Annesley will return to Rovers later this week, but the Under-23s have a break in their fixture list, without a game until the trip to Everton on April 9.

He has played in 14 of their 19 games, with 10 wins and just three defeats seeing them hot on the heels of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League 2 table.

It has been a fine season for Billy Barr’s youngsters, many who will hope that in the final eight games of the Championship season that opportunities could open up in Tony Mowbray’s first team.

Rovers aren’t without their options at centre half, not least on their Academy books, with Hayden Carter, Tyler Magloire and Joe Grayson out on loan, added to Scott Wharton who is currently out injured.

Annesley is out of contract in the summer, leaving Rovers with a decision to make over his future, and should he sign a new deal, then the prospect of a loan spell would be the most likely course of action.

As for his view of his own form, Annesley said: “I think I’ve got my consistency back. I’m not lighting up the world but I’ve been playing well, consistent, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and see what comes.

“We’re all striving to do that and to get into the gaffer’s teams, his squad, and we’re putting a case out there.

“We’re playing well every week and hopefully there’s more to come.”

He is one of the more experienced players within the Under-23s group, both in age and also the knowledge he has built up with the Gibraltar national team.

Barr has been tasked with bringing more of the Under-18s through into the higher age group, and their performances this season have won them many plaudits. And Annesley feels that their team spirit has been key.

“We’ve got a good group, we’re all together, and sometimes you have to nick points.

“It’s been a good month, we’re all together and we have a good bunch in there who are just trying to win football matches for the club.

“We’re doing that at the minute and we’re right up there and will look to keep doing that.

“We’re on City’s tail, and we’re coming for them.

“We want to go for it, we want to win the league, of course, and hopefully we can. We’re up there.”