Joe Rankin-Costello sees no need of setting an aim of being injury free - instead hoping that it is his football, and not his fitness, that becomes the biggest talking point.

Rankin-Costello has been picked when fit, but unfortunately for the Academy graduate that wasn’t as much as he would have hoped, managed just 16 appearances in all competitions.

All of those came as a starter, in a manner of positions in the defensive and midfield positions, but two hamstring absences kept him out before a fractured metatarsal eventually ended his season in April.

The plan for the 21-year-old is to be back in training early next month and then be back in contention for the start of the season.

There was the added boost of a new contract for Rankin-Costello through to 2024 having seen the option in his previous deal triggered to keep him at Ewood Park for at least a further 12 months.

Any thoughts over his future have now been resolved, allowing him to put all his efforts into his football and helping Rovers kick on next term.

“I’m hopeful that I’ll be back around pre-season and we’re looking at mid-July if everything goes to plan,” he explained.

“The aim for next season is to help take the club to the next level with the rest of the lads.

“I want to stay injury-free, but it’s not really an aim, that should be a given really.

“I feel there’s a lot more I can do for the club going forward and I’m looking forward to showing that.”

Rankin-Costello made his breakthrough in the second half of last season, largely in an unfamiliar left back role, before starting the 2020/21 campaign in his more favoured wide attacking role.

However, he largely found himself competing with Ryan Nyambe for a spot on the right side of the defence in a 4-3-3 system preferred by Tony Mowbray.

He starred in the early season wins over Wycombe Wanderers and Derby County, his season paused by a three month hamstring lay-off in the draw at Luton Town in November, but he didn’t find it difficult to get back into the side upon his return.

However, an awkward fall in the Good Friday defeat at Wycombe saw him unable to build on his 16 appearances, but he’s expected to become a key man in Mowbray’s plans moving forward.

“There were ups and downs for me last season,” Rankin-Costello said reflecting on the season just gone.

“I feel I played well when I was fit, but the injuries certainly took their toll.

“I remember playing at Luton and the hamstring went, but the one that annoyed me most was being stood on at Wycombe.

“It was frustrating, but that’s football. Injuries are going to come.”