There have been few positions in Rovers’ recent past that have caused more debate than full back.

Right back in particular hasn’t been the most stable of areas, that until the breakthrough of Ryan Nyambe, who has now passed 200 games for the club.

Since 2017, Rovers have signed only three right backs, Paul Caddis, James Brown and Deyovaisio Zeefuik, owing much to the form of the Namibian.

What has let him down has been the reliability of his fitness, 38 his most league appearances in a Rovers shirt, that coming in 2020/21.

What happens in that area of the pitch this summer will largely come down to the ongoing dealings with Nyambe.

It had been expected that the 24-year-old would leave at the end of his contract in search of pastures new, able to leave on a free transfer.

That is still the case, with Nyambe free to engage in discussions with other clubs over his future, yet it is the return to the negotiation table of his representatives within the last month that has offered hope that he could yet stay.

Rovers confirmed in their retained list that talks remained ongoing, and the ideal scenario would be for the two parties to reach an agreement.

That would seem best for Rovers, who would have a homegrown, dependable and popular right back on their books for an extended period, and for Nyambe himself, security, a place he can call home and the likelihood of regular first-team football.

If Nyambe is to sign, then that would be to be a mainstay of the side.

Should that not be the case, then Rovers will have to turn their attentions to the market in order to find a long-term successor.

They will have had that in mind when agreeing a loan, with a view to buy, deal with Hertha Berlin for Zeefuik in January.

He looked to fit the profile of player Rovers would look to help take them forward, but after an injury-hit spell in which he managed only six appearances, and only two in his natural position, they declined the opportunity to take up that option.

The 24-year-old has this week been linked with a return to his native Netherlands, with his future at Hertha uncertain as he heads into the final year of his deal.

Callum Brittain, of Barnsley, is a player that Rovers have tracked previously, and with the Tykes having been relegated to League One, the club could look to take advantage of that should they enter the market.

The 24-year-old has another year, plus an option, to run on his contract at Oakwell, with the former MK Dons man having clocked up 79 Championship appearances.

He has the versatility of playing in central midfield, but has played much of his football for Barnsley at right wing-back and was a key part of their run to the play-offs in 2020/21.

Exeter City's Joshua Key is another former target, the 22-year-old racking up 44 appearances in League Two last season.

Darragh Lenihan started two matches at right back towards the end of the season, but is also out of contract and yet to sign on the dotted line with an extension remaining on the table.

Hayden Carter, who will be back in the fold after finishing the season with Portsmouth, started three times at right back.

Both of those are naturally centre halves, but played there as Rovers went with a back four.

For much of the season they operated with three central defenders and wing-backs, and should the new manager coming in see fit to do the same, that will be something else to factor in.

Nyambe has excellent defensive qualities, but his attacking output remains a work in progress, and greater numbers from the full backs will be an area for improvement.

That is why Tony Mowbray had previously used Joe Rankin-Costello, a naturally more attacking player, at right back in 2020/21, but his development has been dogged by injuries.

The Academy graduate now sees himself as a wing-back, despite playing much of his youth football as an attacker, and will be keen to show the incoming manager of his qualities, and prove his fitness.

Brown, a free transfer signing after leaving Drogheda United, built up his fitness with the Under-23s before getting the opportunity to make his first-team debut on the final day at Birmingham City.

He didn’t let anyone down, and grew into the game after a nervous start. He bagged himself an extended deal after initially joining on a temporary basis, and the 24-year-old will look to make strides next season.

A loan move north of the border had been mooted for Brown in January, and while that didn’t materialise, that could well be the best way to get him more accustomed to senior first-team football.

Behind the first-team, Rovers have plenty of emerging full backs.

Dan Pike enjoyed a positive loan spell with National League North side AFC Fylde, and will be looking to push on next season, while scholar Jay Haddow has been offered a professional contract.

A Championship side are particularly keen on the 18-year-old, whose future is in the balance, while another second-year scholar, Kristi Montgomery, has also played at full back for the Under-18s and is another option for Mike Sheron’s side should he take up the offer of a professional deal.

Pike will hope for an EFL loan move to further his development, having proven himself at Under-23s level, but in need of more senior football to push for first-team involvement at Rovers.

Rovers right back league starts since 2012: Nyambe 161, Henley 61, Bennett 52, Marshall 38, Kane 36, Lowe 26, Baptiste 20, Orr 17, Rankin-Costello 16, Caddis 13, Keane 8, Carter 3, Reed 2, Ribeiro 2, Zeefuik, 2, Lenihan 2, Brown 1

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