Rovers are taking no chances with Joe Rankin-Costello’s injury comeback as Tony Mowbray says the club will continue to be cautious with his return.

Rankin-Costello has been out since April with a fractured metatarsal, but despite playing in an Under-23s fixture and a behind closed doors friendly, within the last month, Mowbray says the hamstring injuries that have plagued the 22-year-old in recent times will see them tread carefully.

Injury restricted Rankin-Costello to 16 appearances last season, all starts, and while Mowbray is keen to have him back, not least to add cover at right back for Ryan Nyambe, he says extra training is required before he is back involved in a matchday squad having been out since April.

“We have to be careful with Joe, he’s a young lad who’s picked up a lot of hamstring injuries,” Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“We don’t need to, and want to, rush him back.

“We’d like him back of course because Nyambe isn’t a machine, he needs to be given a break at some stage.

“I’m not sure he’ll be thrust in so soon, he has to do more training.”

Mowbray confirmed that Sam Gallagher, who has missed the last two matches with a thigh complaint, will be back for this weekend’s visit of Cardiff City to add to the strength of the squad, with Ian Poveda back for the 0-0 draw at Barnsley where Tayo Edun made his debut.

Another player on the comeback trail is Bradley Johnson, the midfielder having not played since the opening friendly at AFC Fylde in July, though he did play 45 minutes in the Under-23s’ entertaining draw with Tottenham Hotspur where he got on the scoresheet.

“Bradley Johnson, he just has to build it up as well. He has to make sure that when we put him on the pitch he has the capacity aerobically to play in the team,” Mowbray said.

Debutant Edun became the 20th player used by Rovers this season when he came off the bench, with only two club having used fewer.

Scott Wharton is back in full training, but is still at least a month off returning, while Brighton loanee Jan Paul van Hecke isn’t expected back until after the international break which follows the trip to Blackpool on October 2.

Bradley Dack is Rovers’ longer-term injury concern, the attacker pencilled in to return to action at the end of 2021.