Mike Sheron will lead Rovers Under-23s for the first time as permanent boss since his appointment was confirmed as they face Nottingham Forest in the Premier League Cup tonight (7pm).

Sheron was appointed as full-time boss last week, replacing Billy Barr who left in July to take up the assistant manager’s position at Salford City. That will see Sheron step up from his previous post within the Under-18s, though he has led the side in the opening three Premier League 2 games of the season.

Joe Rankin-Costello will play the second game of his comeback from four months out with a fractured metatarsal after coming through 45 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Leicester City, with the 22-year-old pencilled in to play an hour at Meadow Lane tonight (7pm).

Louie Annesley will be unavailable due to his international commitments with Gibraltar, while Jack Vale is away with Wales Under-21s.

Scholar Patrick Gamble is expected to start for a second successive match with Annesley away, while Ash Phillips is also unavailable after being called up by England Under-17s for their Syrenka Cup campaign.

The groups are made up of four teams, with Rovers drawn alongside Forest, QPR and Middlesbrough, the other Category One Academy side in Group B. The competition is made up of eight groups of four, with two qualifying for the knockout stages after home and away matches are played between the sides.

Rovers have a match each month through to February before the knockout stages take place with a round of 16. The three home games will be played at the Lancashire FA headquarters, Leyland, the first of which comes against Middlesbrough on Friday, October 8.

The Premier League 2 returns on Friday as Rovers travel to Brighton (7pm) looking for their first win after home draws with Everton and Leicester and a 4-2 defeat at Manchester City.