Adam Wharton is hoping his fine start to 2022 can continue as Rovers Under-18s go under the spotlight tonight as they resume their FA Youth Cup campaign.

Wharton made his first appearance in a senior matchday squad in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Wigan Athletic before scoring his first Under-23s goal the very next day.

Tonight he will be part of Ryan Kidd’s Under-18s squad looking to make it into round five of the FA Youth Cup as they face Stoke City at Leyland (7pm).

England youth international Ash Phillips was also named in Mowbray’s squad and like Wharton featured in the Under-23s’ defeat to Manchester City. He will come back into Kidd’s plans tonight having missed the 5-1 third round victory at Birmingham City.

Reflecting on his whirlwind period Wharton, younger brother of first-team star Scott, said: “It was a busy weekend, lots of positives to take. I was delighted to be involved with the first-team for the first time.

“The gaffer told me on Friday and it was a great experience.

“The result wasn’t what we wanted but it was good to be involved and to experience what it was like.

“Everything, how they approach the game, the build-up, it was amazing to see an something I hope to get more of in the future.

“It was good to experience it and see the experience between Under-18s, Under-23s and first-team.

“I was then delighted to get my first goal for the Under-23s against a good side but the result wasn’t what we wanted.”

Wharton junior has long been tipped for a bright future, coach Kidd saying after the win at Birmingham the left-footed midfielder was one of the most technically gifted players he’d worked with.

He is part of an exciting crop of players coming through the ranks at Rovers, along with Phillips and striker Harry Leonard who has already penned his first professional deal with the club.

The majority of the side have already played Under-23s football this season and Wharton knows all eyes will be on them tonight.

“Fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, it’s a big game, we all want to win,” he added.

“We know there will be eyes watching us from the Under-23s and first-team so we need to play how we play in the league because we’re doing well and hopefully everything goes to plan.

“There’s a bit of a spotlight on the Under-18s when we play in it, there’s a chance to impress and we feel like we’ve got a good chance given what we’re doing in the league and hopefully we can keep that going and take that momentum into the game.

“This year we’ve been doing amazing, playing well together as a team, that’s the key.

“As long as we play together, all on the same track through the game I think we’ve got a great chance.”

Rovers are four points clear at the top of the Under-18s Premier League but haven’t played since their round three win over Birmingham due to a host of postponed matches.

With minutes for the Under-23s and training with the first-team, they haven’t been short of opportunities however to impress first-team boss Tony Mowbray.

“It was just after training, he called me over and told me that I was going to be involved,” Wharton said of his first-team call.

“I don’t really know what I was thinking. I have been here so long, support the club and it was great for me and my family to be involved.

“There was always a chance I might get on, but the results wasn’t one we wanted, but it was just great to be involved.”

He took in some words of advice from older brother Scott, seven years his senior, and is pleased to see how well Wharton senior is doing after a year out with a ruptured Achilles.

He said: “I spoke to him the night before and he told me to be myself and if I come on do what I do with the Under-18s and Under-23s.

“It’s great to see (how he’s doing), he had a major setback and he’s worked hard, he’s a hardworking lad and loves football.

“To see him back playing and doing well it’s great to see and I’m happy for him.”

Mowbray branded Phillips and Wharton as ‘the future’ after their involvement in the first-team squad last weekend.

And after featuring for the Under-23s on Sunday, Mike Sheron was delighted for the pair.

He said: “The big thing about Adam, we know he has the ability and he’s been outstanding in some of the sessions this week.

“He’s not played as regularly for the Under-23s this season but he’s a good player, he has quality and playing games for us will only help him.

“Ash has come in and has made a big impression with everybody because of his enthusiasm and his work ethic.

“He’s got a good stature, lots of good qualities and we’re looking forward to working with him for the rest of this campaign.”

Entry is free for supporters and boss Kidd believes any fans wanting to attend will be entertained.

He said: “The more fans we have then it will give the lads terrific support. It’s free entry, so I’d encourage as many as possible to come down.

“There’s some great players to come and see, and a good chance for fans to see some players for the future, who will hopefully be coming through over the next few years and hopefully they won’t be disappointed with what they see on the night.”

Rovers have signed goalkeeper Ellis Craven from Rochdale on an initial one week loan deal and he will go into the squad for tonight’s game.

With Phillips back in contention, Kidd is happy with the options at his disposal and says selecting a starting XI will be no easy task.

“We’re looking forward to the test. The FA Youth Cup always brings that extra something special. You can sense it with the lads as well. The toughest thing for us is that we can only pick 11 players, which is going to be a tough job for me and Darragh (Tuffy),” he added.

“We know that there’s going to be a lot of lads disappointed that they won’t be starting the game, but all the lads have contributed so far this season and so I’m sure if they’re asked off the bench they’ll be ready.”