Tony Mowbray feels Rovers have a hot prospect on their hands after 16-year-old Ash Phillips travelled with the first-team squad to Middlesbrough.

Phillips had started the opening two Under-23s fixtures of the season but was then left out of the 1-1 draw with Leicester City as he was part of the first-team squad that travelled to Teesside.

The central defender, along with 18-year-old left back Lenni Cirino, didn’t make the final matchday squad, but has trained with the senior side and is highly regarded at the club.

He only signed scholarship terms with Rovers in the summer, having only turned 16 in June, but has represented England at youth level and seems destined for a bright future in the game.

Rovers will have to wait until he is 17 to tie him down to a full-time, senior contract but having already made the step-up to the Under-23s and been around the first-team set-up, he is a player that Mowbray will keep a close eye on.

His progress has also been noticed by the England set-up, Phillips starting the Under-17’s win over Romania on Friday night and will be aiming to start today’s second Syrenka Cup fixture.

And Mowbray said: “He’s an amazing footballer and he is going to be a mega footballer I’m pretty sure, but he’s a very young boy.

“He’s a 6’3, 6’4 magnificent cut of a guy, fast as lightning, composed with the ball, aggressive. I think this football club have a footballer on their hands and we have to manage his introduction into our team as best we can. I just brought him to give him some experience.”

Phillips’ first-team involvement meant Patrick Gamble stepped up from the Under-18s to start the Leicester draw and he could get a further chance in tomorrow’s Premier League Cup opener against Nottingham Forest with Phillips, as well as captain Louie Annesley, away on international duty.

And boss Mike Sheron said of his display: “It’s important, when scholars do step up, that they try to make sure that they do the job that they do every week for the Under-18s. He’s started the season particularly well. It’s not just his performance level, Pat’s a good talker and he’s been leading the Under-18s really well, so I thought he deserved his opportunity.”