Hayden Carter has impressed once again during a loan spell leaving Rovers with a decision to make upon his return this summer.

Portsmouth have made clear their intention to try and get the defender back on loan for next season having made an immediate impact since moving to Fratton Park.

Yet with no hope of promotion, sitting 12 points outside of the play-offs, Pompey are understood to have concerns about the prospect of Carter either being around Rovers’ first-team plans, or being loaned to another Championship club, next season.

Carter signed a new deal at Rovers in August, making nine appearances in the first half of the campaign, and being a regular around the squad.

The 22-year-old had managed only 14 minutes of Championship football last season, albeit after an injury-hit start to the campaign following his senior debut in the post-lockdown matches.

He then flourished in a five-month stay at Burton Albion as his arrival helped spark a drastic turnaround in fortunes for the Brewers.

With injuries in defence and signings late to arrive, Rovers opted to keep Carter at the club for the first half of the season, a decision that was justified as he played nine times, including five starts.

Yet with Jan Paul van Hecke and Scott Wharton returning to fitness, Rovers allowed Carter to leave on loan in January, with Portsmouth winning the race for his signature.

The picture will change again come the summer, with Rovers still hopeful of securing a play-off spot and a possible tilt at promotion to the Premier League, but more likely facing an overhaul of their central defensive options.

Brighton loanee van Hecke has equally impressed during his time away from his parent club, but as things stand the Seagulls have no intention of allowing the 21-year-old to leave on loan next season, feeling the Dutchman can become part of their first-team set-up next term.

With captain Darragh Lenihan out of contract, Daniel Ayala having struggled with injuries and moving into the final year of his deal, Carter and Scott Wharton are Rovers’ longest-contracted central defenders.

The club are already drawing up targets for next season, with central defenders among the priorities.

Carter has already expressed it will be down to Rovers to decide his next move, though they could look to follow a similar path as they have with Wharton.

He had three years out on loan, albeit in League Two, before returning to Rovers as a 23-year-old looking to break into the side, something he has done with remarkable ease since returning from his loan spells and a year out with a ruptured Achilles.

Tony Mowbray has always felt experience out on loan for defender’s is key, which could offer encouragement to those chasing his signature.

Carter will return to Rovers looking to force his way into those plans, but will equally want to ensure the prospect of regular game-time whatever his next move.

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