Rovers have taken 28 players to Portugal, all aiming to impress new head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson. But who are some of the lesser-known names looking to force their way into Rovers’ plans for this season?



The central defender, and regular captain of the Under-23s, has been with Rovers for 10 years.

Barnes showed his versatility throughout his early years at the club, but has focused on central defence in recent seasons, playing 39 times in Premier League 2 for Rovers.

An injury-hit 2021/22 campaign restricted Barnes to only seven appearances, but he did start six of the final seven matches, in which Rovers won five.

The 21-year-old has grown in stature, adding some extra steel to his undoubted quality in playing the ball out from the back.

His progression was boosted by a productive loan spell with Marine in early 2019, returning to Rovers to establish himself in the Under-23s.

Barnes has another year left to run on his contract.



Technically still a second year scholar, the defender, who turned 17 on Sunday, will sign professional terms with Rovers this week.

Is very much in the infancy of his career, with only a handful of appearances at Under-18s and Under-23s level, but the speed of his progression in the last 18 months means the first-team is very much in his sights.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Has trained regularly with the first-team for the past year, and did make the matchday squad for the FA Cup tie at Wigan in January, having also travelled to Middlesbrough for the Championship fixture in August 2020.

Phillips has become a regular in the England youth set-up, and is seen as one of the best defender’s in his age bracket in the country, but Rovers too will be aware of not putting too much pressure on him.

Injuries restricted his appearances in 2021/22 and his workload will need to be carefully managed, as will expectation given it is rare for central defenders to make a breakthrough at such an age, even though he appears destined for big things.



Impressed as much as anyone in the pre-season friendlies of 2021, thundering into challenges in the 1-1 draw with Leeds United and also help turn the game as Rovers came from 2-0 down to draw with Bolton Wanderers.

Lancashire Telegraph:

That didn’t transcend into the 2021/22 season however, as despite being on the bench six times, he is still waiting to make his senior debut.

The 19-year-old, who has been attracting loan interest from League One sides, did play 18 times for the Under-23s and his upturn in form in the second half of the campaign coincided with better results in Premier League 2.

Garrett has represented England at schoolboy level having been with Rovers from the age of 10 and was handed a professional deal last season through to 2025.

He has made the central midfield position his home, though has played for the Academy sides in both central defence and at left back.

Isn’t one to back down from a challenge, or shy out of a tackle, but will need to ensure the red midst doesn’t descend when more first-team opportunities arrive.



The younger brother of first-team regular Scott, Adam is a technically gifted midfield player with an eye for a pass, and played 25 times across the Under-18s and Under-23s last season.

Plays with a swagger, with his socks down to his ankles, and regularly cruises through games.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The 18-year-old was also part of the FA Cup squad against Wigan in January, and has since signed a two-year professional deal.

Under-18s boss Ryan Kidd described him as the most technically gifted player he’s ever worked with, and his reading of the game is very good too.

Will need to work on his strength and fitness if he’s to play as part of Jon Dahl Tomasson’s high intensity style in the near future, but definitely won’t fall down on his ability on the ball.



Followed the well-trodden path from Preston’s Academy to Rovers, agreeing a two-year deal at Ewood Park.

Walker will look to do what Tyrhys Dolan did in 2020 and impress enough in pre-season to ensure he’s around the first-team, rather than the expected outcome of being with the Under-23s, or loaned out for further experience.

Walker, who turns 20 next month, has already had a host of non-league moves, and one in the EFL with Carlisle United, while he played twice for North End after graduating through their Academy, his debut coming at the age of 16 years and 156 days.

A direct player able to play off both flanks, Walker scored against Rovers in an FA Youth Cup tie in 2020, and will be hoping a full pre-season under his belt is just what he needs to get his career back on the right track.

Rovers allowed wide players Luke Brennan and Sam Durrant to leave in the summer and turn to Walker who will hope to stay around the first-team scene.



Got the nod to travel to Portugal ahead of Sam Burns who featured in pre-season last year.

The teenager signed professional terms with Rovers earlier in the year having passed 20 goals across the Under-18s and Under-23s.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Arrived at the club as a 10-year-old and has since progressed through the ranks to become one of the most exciting striking options in recent years.

Excels with his back to goals and his very adept at bringing others into play, as well as having the mobility to break in behind.

Scored all types of goals, averaging a goal a game at Under-18s level, before progressing into the Under-23s ranks in the second half of the campaign.

Will likely find himself behind Jack Vale in the pecking order, but is one earmarked for a big future at the club, with his deal running to 2025.


Gain unlimited access to the Lancashire Telegraph website with a premium digital subscription with a one month FREE trial