The Jon Dahl Tomasson effect is being felt across the football club.

Whether it be training schedules, demands, meeting times or just merely the sense of a new era, it has transcended from the first-team down to the Academy.

Rovers Under-21s as they are now known following a change in the Premier League ruling, get their season under way on Friday night against Everton.

Their impressive finish to the season in which they lost only once after Christmas to pull clear of relegation danger, coupled with the club’s commitment to Category One status, means they will be the only second-tier side playing in the top-flight of Academy football this season.

Coach Mike Sheron was part of the club’s pre-season training camp in Portugal in the week after Tomasson was appointed.

He was on hand to give input on a host of young players who travelled with the squad, but also learning about Tomasson’s philosophies which can then be replicated within the Under-21s side.

“It was excellent, I really enjoyed it. It was nice to see how the first-team go about it,” Sheron said.

“I didn’t expect to go there. The way they portrayed it to me was ‘this is what the head coach wants and do things and you bring that back into the Academy and filter it out to the coaching staff and players’.

“We do seem to be doing a lot together, which is great from our point of view, a lot of our lads have been involved in the pre-season games.

“I’m quite excited for the season ahead, there’s a lot of positivity around the first-team, the way he has gone about his business, he delegates well, he makes it known in no uncertain terms what’s expected and the players have all bought into it from what I’ve seen.

“We want to try and make it as close to the first-team as we can.”

Ash Phillips, Sam Barnes, Adam Wharton, Jake Garrett and Harry Leonard were all heavily involved in Rovers’ pre-season programme, despite still waiting for their senior debuts.

And Sheron was impressed with what he saw.

“Some of our players have been around the team in pre-season and it’s been pleasing with how they have coped,” he added.

“I feel as if none of them have looked out of place.

“There’s then a domino effect, someone you might not have expected in Jared Harlock being around it, Jack Vale starting the opening game, it gives people hope and that’s what every Academy wants.”

Tomasson has also had an input into the Under-21s schedule for the 2022/23 season.

Where previously Rovers played their matches on Monday or Friday nights, their home games are expected to be played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

While Rovers were gearing up for their opening fixture against QPR, players such as Joe Rankin-Costello, Garrett, Dan Butterworth and Leonard were featuring in a friendly against Huddersfield Town B.

Since the start of 2021 Rovers took the approach of reducing the average age of their Academy side, introducing more scholars into the side with the more senior players loaned out.

However, there is the chance that with the games being played on the same day, or day after, first-team fixtures that more fringe players could be part of Sheron’s side.

Asked about that, Sheron said: “I haven’t had that chat, but I get the impression that may be the case.

“The first-team head coach will plan and do things accordingly and ultimately it’s always about that first XI.

“It’s about the other lads being in a good place when called upon, being sharp, being bright and match ready.”

Many Academy players will continue to train with the first-team in a bid to impress Tomasson, though their opportunities for game-time could come with the Under-21s.

“The manager has been very inclusive, he’s been very honest about what he wants, the clarity has been great to see and hear for our lads,” Sheron added.

“Opportunities will come and that’s what we have to get across.

“Jared is a great example. He had one session with the first-team and he took it. That’s what we’ve got to try and do and promote, every chance is an opportunity.

“They’re the moments you have to take to impress the new manager because he’s still drawing opinion on what he’s seen.”

The ultimate aim is to have more players involved in the first-team, with the club committed to their Academy.

Rovers are closing in on 600 consecutive league matches with at least one graduate in the squad.

Lewis Travis scored on the opening day having been named club captain, one of four Academy players to start the game, with a further two on the bench.

So while Ryan Nyambe and Darragh Lenihan both moved on, the Academy is continuing to be a productive source of players for the first-team.

“The team last year there were five or six players who came through the Academy,” Sheron added.

“The new manager comes in, (director of football) Gregg (Broughton) comes in, and all I hear is them talking about developing players within the Academy and it’s music to our ears.

“We can’t rest on our laurels, we have to keep doing the work we’ve been doing because there’s a lot of good work going on in the Academy.

“To compete with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, it’s tough but a lot of the lads are doing that.

“It’s a big challenge but hopefully we can get some rewards over the next few years because we’ve got some good talents.”

Rovers passed their Premier League audit earlier this year, with their Category One status confirmed through to 2025.

That came as Birmingham City, Burnley and Reading lost theirs, while Derby County’s relegation means Rovers are the only team outside of the Premier League to be completing in Premier League 2 Division One.

Their place looked in danger after a poor start to the season in terms of results, but seven wins in their final 11 games saw them finish ninth.

“The lads, I have to give them a hell of a lot of credit, because they were focused, there was a pride about the performances and a consistency at how they finished the season,” Sheron added.

“I was delighted and very proud that we are the only Championship club to be in PL2 Division One.”

Sheron will this season be assisted by Mark Burton following his appointment this summer.

It is the first time in four years that Rovers have had a permanent assistant for their Under-21s side.

On the importance of that, Sheron said: “We talk about individual development and you have to be able to spend time with individuals players and talking with them and it’s been difficult to go through 20 and do that properly.

“Sometimes they need that personal time and at times you spread yourself too thinly and I didn’t think we were getting the best out of them sometimes or out of yourself because there were so many players.

“You want to give everyone that opportunity to improve and develop.”