Tyrhys Dolan made his return from two months on the sidelines with an energetic 60 minutes as Rovers Under-21s signed off their Premier League International Cup campaign with a 4-1 win over Sparta Prague at Ewood Park.

Dolan hasn’t featured for the first-team since picking up a knee injury in November but signalled his return with an eye-catching display for the Academy side.

He was part of a strong side named by Mike Sheron, with Joe Rankin-Costello and Arnor Sigurdsson the other overage players to feature.

January signings Ben Chrisene and Yasir Ayari both were on target in the win, with Zak Gilsenan coming off the bench to score a brace. With a mix of experience and youth in the team, new assistant coach Paul Butler felt it was a worthwhile evening for all.

“Overall, I think everyone got what they needed from the game," he told RoversTV. "The first-team players needed minutes, the Under-21s needed another challenge, and we’re so well linked with the principles of play, it comes together quite well.

“There’s always a different challenge in these games and I felt the players rose to that challenge on the night.

“The first-team coaching staff were here watching closely tonight and every time a challenge is set, they’re being watched. These games are so valuable for the young players and the senior lads."

Rovers went into the game unable to qualify for the knockout stages, having taken three points from their three previous group games.

They had the better of the first half, without making the most of their opportunities, but sprung into life after the break to overpower their Czech opponents who were also unable to reach the knockout stages.

Dolan, who played alongside Harry Leonard as a front pairing, had the game’s first opening in the fourth minute. Filip Nalezinek was equal to his effort from the left edge of the box, with his defenders backing him up to block Leonard’s follow-up.

Sigurdsson, who played the full 90 minutes, had an effort saved in the 18th minute, with Ayari unable to find the target with his effort from the edge of the box soon after.

Rovers were working good openings, with plenty of joy down the flanks in particular, though were let down by their final ball.

Sparta’s forays into the Rovers half were infrequent, but not without threat, as Lukas Vana wasted a good counter-attacking opportunity when firing into the gloves of Nicolas Michalski, the same suffered by Vojtech Hranos’ 20-yard drive.

Goalkeeper Michalski, at 16, and 15-year-old midfield talent Rory Finneran, ensured Rovers’ average age was under 20, even though the starting line-up included players with 79 Championship appearances this season.

Finneran, the club’s youngest-ever player, showed his quality with an excellent through ball to release Sigurdsson in the 26th minute, and while the Iceland international showed good feet to get around the goalkeeper, Jakhub Uhrincat covered well to block the shot on the line.

It meant that Rovers’ search for an opening goal would reach almost the hour mark, Leonard scuffing a shot wide of the target just before the deadlock was broken.

It came from a smart Chrisene finish, Sigurdsson’s through ball having the perfect weight to put the left back in the clear and he made no mistake when rolling the ball under Nalezinek.

Dolan then departed, one of three Rovers changes on the hour, with Rankin-Costello and Finneran the others to be replaced.

Charlie Weston was among those to be introduced, but he had a moment to forget when losing the ball on the edge of his own box. His attempts to win the ball back could have seen Sparta awarded a penalty, only for play to continue for long enough for Daniel Rus to shoot goalwards, an effort that deflected over the unfortunate Michalski.

Parity was restored for only six minutes however, as this time a substitute enjoyed a better fate, Zak Gilsenan pouncing on a poor pass from Ondrej Lilling before firing across Nalezinek and into the net.

Within 60 seconds, and with 18 minutes still to play, Rovers opened up a two-goal cushion. Ayari, who had looked to break forward from midfield at every opportunity, chopped the ball back onto his right foot before finding the net with an emphatic finish from a tight angle.

Sparta’s hopes of finding a route back into the game saw Enes Osmani curl a free-kick against the bar, but those were extinguished with nine minutes to play.

It was a goal all of Gilsenan’s making, the attacker cushioning a ball forward before twisting and turning his marker, and then firing across Nalezinek to squeeze a shot inside of the left-hand post.

Leonard’s quest to add his name to the scoresheet saw him twice denied by Nalezinek, first with a shot on the turn and then an injury-time free-kick.

The win meant Rovers finished fourth in Group A having picked up seven points from four games.

Rovers: Michalski; Rankin-Costello (Gilsenan, 60), Olson, Atcheson, Chrisene (Haddow, 77); Duru, Ayari (O’Grady-Macken, 77), Finneran (Weston, 60), Sigurdsson; Dolan (Tyjon, 60), Leonard.

Unused substitutes: Khan, Bloxham