Tony Mowbray said the senior players, including star striker Adam Armstrong, who didn’t feature at AFC Fylde was down to fitness concerns.

Rovers were without a host of senior players in their opening pre-season friendly which was decided by a second half strike by Connor McBride.

He, along with Sam Burns, Luke Brennan and Sam Durrant, were handed opportunities with Armstrong not included after the players having spent a week away in Scotland leading up to the friendly at Mill Farm.

Armstrong has been the subject of transfer speculation, with the club having rejected one bid from Southampton for the 29-goal frontman, but Mowbray said his absence from the pre-season opener was fitness related.

Thomas Kaminski and Aynsley Pears also sat out the game where Mowbray named a different XI in each half, as Jordan Eastham and Antonis Stergiakis shared the game-time in goal.

Darragh Lenihan has been handed time off following the birth of his second child, while Tyrhys Dolan and Sam Gallagher were struggling with knocks, with Daniel Ayala another one to sit out the game.

A disappointment for Rovers was a hamstring strain for their most experienced player, Bradley Johnson, which forced him off in the first half.

“If they weren’t here, they weren’t fit, it’s as simple as that,” Mowbray said of the players not involved.

“That’s what it was. The sad thing for me is that Bradley Johnson, one of our only senior players, got himself injured today, so that’s a frustration for us.”

On Armstrong specifically, Mowbray added: “Just like the ones I said, he wasn't fit so he wasn't here, there's no problem.

“Adam worked really hard in training in Scotland and I am not taking a chance with any of the players, Ayala trained hard in Scotland, and Adam just felt a bit stiff after the work he has put in so it wasn't worth bringing Adam when there are some Under-23s players who I wanted to have a look at."

Of the game itself, Mowbray added: “Pre-season is there for them to get fit, one or two looked a bit leggy because of the work that they had put in.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for everyone.

“We’re trying to get across our beliefs of how we want to play, it’s a balance between working hard and getting the technical work in.

“I thought the kids did really well, because they haven’t been part of what we’re trying to do, what we’ve built for the last few years.

“So for one week in Scotland for them to try and understand how we want to play, it was good.”