Hayden Carter is wanted by Portsmouth, that much is clear, as the League One club look set to do all they can to secure a Fratton Park return for the Rovers defender.

While Portsmouth are clear in their view, things aren’t as straightforward for the other two parties in the deal, Rovers and the player himself, with much to consider heading into pre-season.

Carter has made clear that whatever decision is made has to be the best for his career, and the focus being on playing games.

He has now had two tastes of regular first-team football, both in League One, playing virtually ever minute following short-term moves in the last two January windows to Burton Albion and Portsmouth respectively.

Carter managed eight appearances in the first half of the season for Rovers, a sign that while Tony Mowbray wanted him to gain further experience out on loan, he was needed around the first-team squad.

Yet when the opportunity became available for him to leave on loan, that was taken, seen as the best course of action for his development.

It was undoubtedly the right one, not least given his form, but also the strength of Rovers’ back three and their availability which would have left him kicking his feels, playing the odd Under-23s match.

Now 22, with a taste of regular football once again, Carter understandably doesn’t want his career to stand still.

Each season Rovers have tried to have four central defensive options, with Ryan Nyambe offering some back-up if required.

Yet heading into next season, Carter is one of only three contracted central defenders, alongside Daniel Ayala and Scott Wharton.

Captain Darragh Lenihan is out of contract, as is Nyambe who has filled in at times, while player of the year Jan Paul van Hecke has retuned to Brighton.

Ayala has had injury problems throughout this time at the club, so Rovers won’t want to leave themselves short.

As things stand, defensive signings look imperative, whether those be on the contract table, or in the transfer market.

Should the Rovers captain stay, then he will be doing so to be first-choice, and it’s hard to think of a scenario when that wouldn’t be the case having been a mainstay of the side, as well as showing strong leadership qualities as captain.

Wharton played every game since returning from long-term injury in November, and while Ayala had a disappointing second half of the season, he showed his qualities when fit and available.

That could leave Carter as potentially fourth choice again, but his versatility at right back is another string to  his bow, as is the possibility of Rovers playing with a back three once again, opening up further opportunities.

Being in the market for a centre half this summer, one at 22 who has excelled in League One, with potential to grow, would be on Rovers’ list.

A centre half who won 46 of his 51 tackles, averaging an interception and three clearances per game, plus 2.6 headers won, as well as an ability to bring the ball out from defence and pop up with the odd goal, would tick many of the boxes.

Given that said player is Carter, and already on their books, it would appear unlikely for them to part ways, not least for the £500,000 fee Portsmouth believe it would take.

Another big factor in all of this is the assessment of the next Rovers manager. Mowbray wanted Carter, as he has other young centre halves at the club, to have the experience of playing lower league football before the opportunity to stake a claim at Rovers.

Wharton had three successive years out on loan and had to be patient before getting his chance, and the pathway could be the same for Carter.

Awarded a new three-year deal in August, it feels unlikely that Rovers will close the door on him so quickly, given the fee quoted, with a temporary, rather than permanent, the most likely return option should Rovers not foresee enough opportunities for him this season.

That would be one way of keeping all three happy, even if it doesn’t tick the Championship box for Carter.

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