Steve Waggott says Rovers’ Academy will be free of any cost-cutting at the club who remain committed to their Category One status.

Waggott says he has been entrusted by owners Venky’s to look at all areas of the club in a bid to save funds wherever possible in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and losses of £21m in the year to June 2020.

However, the club’s Category One Academy will be untouched, with a £2m investment required each year in order to trigger a £1m Premier League grant to help in its running.

The Academy has been a great production in line for Rovers, with seven graduates having played for the first-team this season who have contributed 3,953 of the 10,890 total minutes played.

Rovers brought in four loanees over the summer, all from Premier League clubs, however, they have played a combined 460 minutes, almost 10 per cent of those played by Academy graduates.

The club said they had an awareness of not blocking the pathway of their own youngsters when making moves into the loan market.

And Waggott said: “We’ve got a Category One Academy and we have a really good group of players coming through, more at Under-16 and Under-18 level, so the Academy is performing really well.”

Waggott says the main driver of income at the club will always be the first-team, but savings have been made there with the departure of six senior players in the summer and the return of five loanees.

With only five new faces through the door, with four of those on loan, significant funds have been freed up.

Waggott said of the owners: "Their support has been unbelievable but like all businesses they've been inclined to have a look at their cost basis, which is what I've done and had a look at.

"A lot of players went out the door in the summer and quite a few of them were really high-earning given their experience and international experience. They've been replaced by younger players who come at a lower cost, so I've been able to save there.

"We can't cost-save on the Academy, we still have a budget that needs to be put in to match the grant. We invest £2m to return a £1m grant and that's producing more and more players for us so that's really beneficial to the club.

"But we're looking at any other areas we can change. It's a process all different industries are going through and just having a look at what we can change.”

Meanwhile, Rovers prospect Ash Phillips has withdrawn from the England Under-17s squad because of injury.

The 16-year-old joined up with the age group side for the second successive international window, after Rovers’ Premier League Cup win over Middlesbrough on Friday night.

However, on the eve of the game against Armenia, he has been withdrawn from the squad and will now return to Rovers for treatment.